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Proposed Bill Would Reform CRP Program
USAgNet - 01/28/2013

A bill filed last week by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) would allow more farmland to be used for production rather than lay dormant in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Program. The Preserving Marginal Lands and Protecting Farming Act, H.R. 349, reforms the CRP by restricting the increasingly-frequent practice of paying landowners to let fertile cropland go unplanted for years.

The CRP was originally implemented to prevent erosion and protect sensitive farmland by providing funding to landowners who convert it into a vegetative cover such as grass or timber.

Recently, however, the program has tended to enroll high-quality and otherwise highly-productive land, all at a time when farmland is becoming more scarce.

"We need to apply smart erosion prevention and conservation techniques on marginal lands, but using taxpayer money to encourage landowners to let quality cropland lay dormant doesn't make sense," Rep. Roby said. "This legislation restores common sense to the Conservation Reserve Program and saves taxpayers' money."

Rep. Roby's bill would reduce the overall number of acres held in CRP nationwide by 24 million acres over four years; end payments for non-farming of the most fertile and least sensitive lands; and save taxpayers millions in federal spending annually.

The legislation would not affect a landowner's right to convert private land to timber or grasslands for conservation purposes if he or she chooses to do so.

In a letter sent to House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), National Grain and Feed Association President Randy Gordon urged passage of the Preserving Marginal Lands and Protecting Farming Act.

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