Conservation Reserve Program changes explored

by Staff
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WASHINGTON — Nine public meetings about the Conservation Reserve Program will be conducted beginning Sept. 15 at locations around the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Aug. 20.

The Farm Service Agency of the U.S.D.A. said topics for the nine workshops will include provisions for dealing with cropping history requirements, crop rotation practices, contract incentives, program enrollment terms and the C.R.P. enrollment authority of 32 million acres established for the remainder of the 2008 farm bill.

"These workshops will be important to receive feedback about how we can make the Conservation Reserve Program more effective for producers as well as increase the environmental benefits of the program," said Jonathan Coppess, F.S.A. administrator.

In addition to the workshops, public comments on the C.R.P. may be submitted to the F.S.A. The U.S.D.A. will consider the comments while preparing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. The baking industry has been pursuing such a statement as a prerequisite for implementing changes to the C.R.P. Cory Martin, senior federal government relations manager for the American Bakers Association, said the workshops and invitations for comments could offer an opportunity for a closer look at the C.R.P. with possible program revisions.

"I think there is an opportunity for change here," Mr. Martin said. "This administration is pro-conservation, but it appears there will be a chance through this process to air issues of concern to bakers. A.B.A. will be submitting comments."

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