Congress is considering continuation of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in the 1995 Farm Bill. The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) has released a background document “The Conservation Reserve: A Survey of Research and Interest Groups” for the debate.
The publication provides a summary of research literature on the CRP, a program to retire highly erodible cropland, and a detailed survey of 18 interest groups in agriculture, agribusiness, conservation, and the environment. It outlines three options for the program: renewal, termination, or modification.
“Bringing together materials from over 400 studies and the positions of those surveyed will provide policymakers with information relevant to making decisions on the future of the CRP,” said Jennie Hughes, a researcher at Colorado State University and coauthor of the report.
Participants in the CRP are pleased with the program because it provides income stability, decreases the need for credit, and in some instances allows farmers to retire early. Other findings from the research literature include the following:
Interest Group Survey Results
Positions of 16 of the groups surveyed are as follows:
The groups surveyed were the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Farmland Trust, American Soybean Association, Ducks Unlimited, The Fertilizer Institute, National Association of Conservation Districts, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Audubon Society, National Cattlemen’s Association, National Cotton Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, National Grain and Feed Association, National Grain Sorghum Producers, National Pork Producers Council, The Nature Conservancy, Soil and Water Conservation Society, and the Wildlife Management Institute.
“The CRP provides benefits that many people would like to see continue. For the program to be renewed, however, it probably will have to cost less while still providing benefits people care about,” Jennie Hughes concluded.
The Conservation Reserve Program was created in 1985 to encourage farmers to retire highly erodible cropland in return for annual rental payments and a one-time conservation practice cost share payment. In 1995, CRP contracts began to expire. Given the size, scope, and importance of the program, Congress is considering its continuation in the 1995 Farm Bill debate.
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