Contrary to report, CRP program is workingPublished 11:08am Friday, April 6, 2012
Letter to the Editorharmony
Readers of the recent article “Officials plan for major CRP loss,” heard the “sky is falling” side of the story. Here’s another perspective.
Back when the program was developed, the three primary goals of CRP were to increase grain prices by reducing supplies, provide wildlife habitat and reduce soil erosion.
Remember, it is called a reserve for a reason. The long-term but non-permanent nature of CRP contracts allows farmers to respond to market signals. Right now the signal says “produce more,” but those of us who farm know that it will change to “produce less” again. Readers should also know that while crop prices are up from a few years ago, so are the costs of growing a crop. The net effect is that farmers continue to identify acres that they would like to enroll in CRP, even at current price levels. As noted in the article, the Mower County program technician expects high re-enrollment.
The fact that CRP contracts expire on a revolving basis allows better decisions on land use. Farming practices continue to improve. Today, erosion can be minimized through the use of conservation tillage, which is widely used by Minnesota farmers. There are also economic issues at play. Urbanization has swallowed thousands of acres of land, and readers might be interested to know that there are more developed acres in Minnesota than acres of CRP grassland. The economic activity generated by crop production has also outpaced that of hunting in most of southern and western Minnesota.
So while DNR Commissioner Landwehr feels compelled to sound the alarm and his agency discusses ways to alleviate the reduction in CRP acres, farmers and farmland owners are already at work identifying the right acres to set aside for habitat and water quality protection, and the right acres to farm.