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Conservation Reserve Program

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), at 27 million acres, is the fourth largest “crop” in the United States. Most of the CRP acres are located in the traditional grain producing areas of the Plains states.  In the traditional wheat growing states of Kansas, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota, 2.4, 2.1, 2.1, 1.8 and 1.4 million acres, respectively, are currently locked up in the CRP.

Idling productive, non-environmentally sensitive land has contributed to dramatic reductions in acreage for both wheat and oats, especially in the northern Plains states. As a result, each year U.S. millers must resort to imported grain to make up for the lost production.

Failure to reform the CRP and allow non-sensitive land back into production forces grain production onto land that is arid, subject to erosion, and less sustainable. It also results in less food for a growing world population.

NAMA supports the following CRP reforms:

  • Significantly reduce the current CRP cap of 32 million acres;
  • Prohibit future enrollments and re-enrollments of Land Classes 1 and 2 – approximately 7.1 million acres;
  • Enforce the 25 percent limit on CRP in individual counties;
  • Permit penalty-free early outs on Land Classes 1, 2 and 3;
  • Restrict whole-farm and whole-field enrollments; and
  • Target the program on land that is truly environmentally sensitive, with emphasis on buffer strips.

The Farm Bill presents an opportunity to reform the CRP so that land that is truly environmentally sensitive is protected and highly productive land can be brought back into production. 3.3 million acres of CRP contracts expire in September 2013, plus approximately 1.9 million acres of contracts expire each year from 2014-2017.  Therefore, now is the time to reform the CRP and bring sustainable land back into production.

Prepared by Jim Bair, Vice President, 202.484.2200, ext. 14, jbair@namamillers.org

Last updated July 2013

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