Farmers and Ranchers think CRP

Farmers and Ranchers think CRP

Rick Worthington
Rick Worthington
The future of nutrition assistance in the stalled 2018 Farm Bill has dominated news headlines, but farmers and ranchers are equally concerned about what will happen if conservation programs are not renewed.

Programs in jeopardy include the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The program is in limbo after a U.S. Senate and House conference committee failed to agree on a final version of a new farm bill.

Dave Nomsen with Pheasants Forever, a conservation organization focused on pheasant conservation says the voluntary program has protected fragile or marginal crop lands for more than 30 years.

"Farmers, I think, are getting a lot smarter at putting a pencil to a paper and really taking a look as to what's the best use of those lands, and that means more lands are probably better off longer-term in some sort of a conservation program," he states.

The Conservation Reserve Program has provided many farmers and ranchers with a source of income, even while commodity prices have declined and costs for seed, fertilizer, fuel and labor have risen.

Nomsen says he's witnessed some of the highest demand for conservation in decades.

"Regardless of whether a farmer is doing this for water quality improvements or he's doing it for soil erosion improvements or maybe he's just doing it to put a few more roosters, a few more quail on that landscape doesn't really matter, but the programs benefit all of those various interests at the same time," he states.

Government officials say current CRP contracts will not be affected by expiration of the farm bill, but no new lands will be enrolled until a new bill is passed or the old bill is extended.

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