C.R.P. decision change urged

by Josh Sosland
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WASHINGTON — A coalition of 37 organizations representing a wide swath of U.S. agriculture has sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns seeking reconsideration of a March 30 decision not to allow penalty-free early release of Conservation Reserve Program acres. Warning that weather-related planting delays could reduce the size of the 2007 corn crop, the groups, including the National Grain and Feed Association, the North American Millers’ Association and the American Bakers Association, urged Mr. Johanns to reconsider the decision. "Even with a large crop in 2007, another substantial increase in corn acreage will be required again in 2008 to meet the rapidly increasing production of corn-based ethanol," the letter said. "Although non-environmentally sensitive cropland in C.R.P. cannot provide all the additional cropland for corn next spring, this C.R.P. acreage can, nonetheless, provide a good measure toward meeting the anticipated, necessary expansion of cropland for corn next year. Current U.S. Department of Agriculture rules for removal of land from the C.R.P. prior to contract expiration are viewed by many as onerous. The groups also urged Mr. Johanns not to authorize a general C.R.P. signup in either 2007 or 2008, limiting any signup only to the most environmentally sensitive lands.

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