Thune Farm Bill Proposals Would Improve Conservation Program Management “These common-sense management changes are much-needed, and they would go a long way in improving several farm bill conservation programs.”
PoliticalNews.me - Apr 18,2017 - Thune Farm Bill Proposals Would Improve Conservation Program Management
“These common-sense management changes are much-needed, and they would go a long way in improving several farm bill conservation programs.”
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, unveiled multiple proposals that would add flexibility to Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) management and create new management options for other easement programs. In March, Thune announced that he would introduce multiple and incremental farm bill proposals throughout 2017, well in advance of the current farm bill’s September 2018 expiration. Thune, who has written three farm bills during his time in Congress, believes these current changes represent a common-sense approach that would greatly improve how easement programs are managed.
Thune’s proposals include, among others, increasing the CRP acreage cap by 25 percent to 30 million acres, creating a new concept for establishing CRP target acreage enrollment for each state by using a 10-year average enrollment, allowing greater flexibility for grazing and haying on CRP-enrolled land, and setting new, more-flexible rules that would improve all other existing and new farm bill easement programs.
“These common-sense management changes are much-needed, and they would go a long way in improving several farm bill conservation programs,” said Thune. “CRP is a popular program in South Dakota, but due to expiring contracts, the state is expected to lose 57 percent of its existing CRP acres over the years covered by the 2018 farm bill. After receiving feedback from stakeholders throughout South Dakota, it was clear that we needed to make some changes. I look forward to continuing the conversation on these and other proposals as debate on the next farm bill continues to get underway.”
Highlights of Thune’s proposals:
Adjustment to CRP Acreage Cap:
Using available data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the nationwide 10-year CRP enrollment average (2007-2016) is 29,740,113 acres.
Rounding this number to 30 million acres would establish a reasonable and defensible CRP acreage cap for the duration of the next farm bill.
This 10-year average represents periods of both high and low commodity prices and various diverse weather patterns.
This adjustment would make 6 million more acres available to farmers who want to enroll in CRP during the term of the next farm bill.
CRP State Target Acreage Enrollment:
A state’s target CRP acreage for the next farm bill would be determined by dividing the 10-year CRP enrollment average of all CRP-enrolled acres in a state by the 10-year national CRP acreage enrollment (carried out 8 decimal places), times the CRP enrollment cap for the next farm bill (30 million acres).
For example, the 10-year average in South Dakota is 1,130,238.3 acres. If the state average is divided by the national 10-year enrollment average (29,740,113 acres) and then multiplied by the proposed 2018 farm bill CRP acreage cap (30 million acres), the new target for South Dakota would be 1,140,115 acres.
Grazing and Haying on CRP-Enrolled Land:
Grazing would be allowed on CRP