The Conservation Reserve Program got renewed attention at a recent confirmation hearing for nominees for top Department of Agriculture posts. Lawmakers focused on both acreage enrollment and emergency CRP haying and grazing. CRP has always been popular, but low crop prices and continuing droughts and other disasters is spurring renewed interest in the land conservation program. South Dakota Ag Senator John Thune told nominee for Undersecretary for Farm and Conservation Programs Bill Northey that demand is growing for CRP general and continuous enrollment.
“What plans you have to reinstate CRP Open enrollment for for the next general signup. And does USDA support a higher acreage cap as I do as part of the 2018 Farm Bill? And just so you know, I support raising it to 30 million acres, it’s at 24 [million] right now under the current Farm Bill.”
Northey responded cautiously.
“I know there’s a lot of conversation about the acreage cap going into the next Farm Bill. I certainly look forward to being a part of those conversations if confirmed. I need to have conversations with our Secretary Perdue and be able to understand exactly what this Administration is. But CRP is an important program and it answers many of the Natural Resource needs that are out there.”
But, Northey added that as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, he’s seen his state grow to be one of the largest continuous CRP enrollment states, using CRP to deal with nutrient reduction wetlands, buffers and more.
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