Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley recently proposed opening up the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) as a way to replace some of the cropland capacity lost from flooding in Iowa and elsewhere in the Midwest. A good idea? Not, say the majority of farmers taking an Agriculture Online poll.
In comments to the poll, you'll find a diverse set of opinions. Said one farmer: "There will be little benefit to crop production this year by opening it up so it wouldn't serve much purpose." Others are opposed for another reason: "All that land is HEL [highly erodible land] and probably needs to stay in CRP."
In a news story this week, Agriculture Online reported that Ag Secretary Ed Schafer is mulling over a decision on what to do with CRP land in the 2009 crop year. One hopes that he will carefully consider the long-term impacts of such a decision, and realize that people out on the land may see this differently than Washington politicians, including Grassley. The CRP certainly is not the answer to all of our soil and water conservation problems, and it is not the answer to what ails us now on cropland.