Conservation Reserve shrinks to smallest size since 1988

Lawmakers decided as part of the 2018 farm policy law to expand the voluntary Conservation Reserve, which pays landowners an annual rent in exchange for idling fragile farmland for 10 years or longer. Although the expansion was expected to be popular — offering steady income after years of low commodity prices — it hasn't panned out. Enrollment continues a decline that began in 2007.

High yields, low prices may plant the seed of a larger Conservation Reserve

The 2018 farm law allows an additional 3 million acres into the land-idling Conservation Reserve, partly to offset the low market prices that followed the collapse of the commodity boom earlier this decade. Lawmakers may opt for another expansion of the reserve if farmers face mountains of surplus grain and continued low prices, said two University of Illinois economists.

Amid growing interest in hemp, USDA stands firm on rules

A lot of farmers will give industrial hemp a try this year, the first time cultivation is allowed nationwide, USDA officials predicted on Thursday. But they said there was no way they could allow more THC in hemp despite complaints that the limit of 0.3 percent is so low that some growers will be penalized unfairly for a "hot" crop.

‘Big pile of money’ for farmers could backfire in Congress

The Trump administration enabled multimillion-dollar payments to some large operators in this year’s round of trade war payments by obliterating the usual limits on farm subsidies, said the president of the National Farmers Union on Thursday.

At USDA listening session on heirs property, an emphasis on education and preservation

At a listening session on Wednesday, landowners and advocates spoke to the Department of Agriculture about the importance of reforming how the agency aids heirs property owners. The listening session was convened to collect input on a series of heirs property reforms mandated by the 2018 farm bill.

Former Ag chairman Conaway, farm subsidy defender and SNAP skeptic, will retire

Staunch conservative Michael Conaway, an eight-term Republican from west Texas and the most divisive House Agriculture chairman in decades, said on Wednesday that he will retire at the end of 2020.

USDA will proceed slowly on industrial hemp

The 2018 farm bill legalized industrial hemp production, but it is likely to be 2020 before the USDA produces the regulatory framework for the new crop, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.

Trade war panned as China buys more U.S. soy

Two outspoken Kansans scored the trade war with China as needlessly disruptive for the farm sector on Tuesday, with Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts comparing it to the five-week partial government shutdown and economist Barry Flinchbaugh urging Congress to curtail President Trump's power to impose tariffs in the name of national security. In a pause in the trade war, China bought 2.6 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans, the third-largest soy sale in USDA records.

GOP adds three newcomers to House Ag; former chair Lucas takes a break

Although they’re in the minority, Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee will work for regulatory relief at home for farmers and ranchers and market access abroad for U.S. farm exports, said Rep. Michael Conaway, the GOP leader on the committee, on Wednesday.

House Democrats open door to SNAP litigation

When Democrats take control of the House today, one of their first steps will be the adoption of operating rules for the coming two years, including a provision that could lead to a court challenge to stricter time limits for SNAP benefits.