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Details of New Farm Bill Proposal Announced
USAgNet - 03/03/2017

U.S. Sen. John Thune said the 2018 farm bill will need "innovative solutions and flexibility" to alleviate low commodity prices that are plaguing producers. The third-term Republican senator on Thursday introduced the Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP), the first individual farm bill proposal he plans to bring forward in the coming months.

The Daily Republic reports that a voluntary program, SHIPP would provide farmers with a short-term acreage conservation program. The commitment for farmers would be three to five years, and the annual payment rate would be one-half of the Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up rental per-acre rate for the county.

The proposal also says SHIPP acres may also be hayed or grazed outside of "nesting and brood-rearing period" for pheasants "established for the county, with adequate stubble height left standing to protect the soil."

SHIPP is another conservation option for farmers to get paid, but doesn't have the 10-year commitment like CRP, which was established in the 1985 farm bill and pays landowners to set aside marginal ground and keep it out of agricultural production to help reduce soil erosion, improve soil and air quality and develop wildlife habitat.

The 2014 farm bill capped CRP acreage at 24 million acres enrolled nationwide, which was down significantly from 32 million acres set in the 2008 farm bill.

Thune said there has not been a target number settled for CRP acreage for the 2018 farm bill. Minnesota-based nonprofit Pheasants Forever on Wednesday testified to the subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry and recommended to raise the acreage cap of CRP nationwide to a minimum of 40 million acres.

In the 2014 farm bill, Thune included the "sodsaver provision," which reduces the federal crop insurance subsidy available on any land that farmers convert from native prairie to cropland.

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