Despite lower rental rates, enrollment in the land-idling Conservation Reserve Program is "competitive" this year, a USDA official said at a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. The 2018 farm bill raised the cap on the number of acres to be enrolled in the CRP from 24 million to 27 million, and Congress reduced the rates paid to farmers to fund the expansion.
The Conservation Reserve signup that opens on Monday could see landowners idle the largest amount of fragile cropland in years, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, although some analysts say lower government payment rates will hold down enrollment in the program.
The USDA will hold its first “general” signup for the land-idling Conservation Reserve Program under the 2018 farm bill in early December, and “we expect to enroll a large number of acres,” said Deputy Agriculture Secretary Steve Censky on Thursday.
Presidential aspirant Sen. Cory Booker proposed a climate change program on Thursday on the scale of FDR’s New Deal to underwrite voluntary soil and water conservation on more than 100 million acres of farmland and the planting of 15 billion trees across the country.
The USDA intends by this fall to put in place a revised land management plan for the greater sage-grouse, once a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Almost as soon as the USDA offered to admit land in need of high-priority stewardship practices into the long-term Conservation Reserve Program, the House Agriculture chairman threatened on Thursday to void the offer. “I am going to stop it somehow or other,” chairman Collin Peterson told two USDA officials.
Maine Democrat Rep. Chellie Pingree rolled out a five-point plan to “support farmers in the fight against climate change,” offering a contrast to the Green New Deal announced earlier this year, which largely sidestepped agricultural issues and came under criticism for not engaging with farmers.(No paywall)
The Renewable Fuel Standard, which guarantees biofuels such as corn ethanol a share of the gasoline market, has prompted farmers to plow under wildlife habitat and has contributed to agricultural runoff, said the National Wildlife Federation on Thursday.
An annual survey of monarch butterflies hibernating in Mexico found that the population was 144 percent higher than it was in 2018. The results, said the World Wildlife Fund on Wednesday, offered “a testament to the power of conservation.”