Vilsack Defends Food Aid, Conservation Programs Against Possible GOP Cuts

CMC was part of a delegation that met this week with USDA officials to discuss bringing productive acres out of the CRP for production.  Yesterday USDA Secretary Vilsack reiterated the Administration’s belief that the CRP is appropriately focused – indicating USDA is unlikely to voluntarily lower acreage below the 32 million acre cap.

Conservation Program

Kingston also said the Conservation Reserve Program, a favorite of farm groups and environmentalists, should be closely examined. He wants to know how many of the 32 million acres enrolled actually are “environmentally sensitive” lands, the requirement for putting idled farm land into the program.

“I think it’s very oversubscribed,” he said. “I think it’s paying farmers not to farm in many cases.”

Vilsack said he believes the program achieves its mission of preventing the erosion of millions of tons of soil into rivers and streams. He said there is little financial incentive for farmers to tie up productive land for several years, especially given the current high price of crops.

“I think we have to take a look at [the program] but I think we are focused where we need to be,” Vilsack said.

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