Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, last week sent a letter to USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asking for information on the administration of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
In their letter, they ask if a competitive analysis is conducted before enrolling acres in CRP and whether there is an emphasis on signing up entire farms versus just the marginal acres of a farm.
Grassley and Ernst cited concerns raised by farmers in recent months about entire farms, composed of productive farmland being enrolled in CRP at rental rates many farmers cannot compete with. As landowners decide to enroll more acres in CRP, farmers have lost opportunities to farm some highly productive land. This has hit some young and beginning farmers especially hard.
Grassley and Ernst wrote, “CRP is an important program that offers land owners alternative ways to derive value from their land while providing environmental benefits to the surrounding area. However, we must ensure the program is properly administered and stays true to its original intent while using taxpayer dollars in the most effective manner possible.”