The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is emerging as a focal point in the coming farm bill debate on several fronts – from policy to budget savings.
Renewed focus on increasing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., introduced another CRP-related bill, calling for 30 million acres to be enrolled — an increase of 6 million acres on the current cap. Thune also wants more flexibility on the use of the land, including the ability to graze cattle and harvest cover vegetation.
Under the 2014 Farm Bill, lawmakers gradually reduced the level of acreage allowed in the CRP to 24 million in Fiscal 2017 and Fiscal 2018.
House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said in a February hearing that he would like to see the program cap set at least to 35 million acres, though he also wants the farm bill to address paperwork and other burdens to farmers enrolled in CRP.
“CRP is a popular program in South Dakota, but due to expiring contracts, the state is expected to lose 57% of its existing CRP acres over the years covered by the 2018 Farm Bill,” Thune, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in a statement. “After receiving feedback from stakeholders throughout South Dakota, it was clear that we needed to make some changes. I look forward to continuing the conversation on these and other proposals as debate on the next farm bill continues to get underway.”