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U.S. Farm Report Mailbag

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Comments, questions, opinions...this is your chance to speak out regarding anything and everything reported on U.S. Farm Report. Viewer feedback updated regularly.

To CRP or not to CRP

Feb 08, 2011

   I am a small hay and sheep producer in Malta, Montana. I was interested in your last show talking about Congressional interest in eliminating CRP as a way to cut the budget.  You may not be aware of the current administrations interest, through the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in turning our community into a wild bison range.  In February of 2010 a document was released that highlighted the administrations interest in creating 12 million acres of monuments under the antiquaties act.  Our communities along the Hi-Line of Malta and Glasgow would be included.

    Our humble rural community produced $87 million in raw agricultural products (feeder calves and small grains).  As you know these raw products travel across the region, country and world and multiply into $435 million in commerce.
 
   At a time when the USDA has identified 50 million Americans with food shortages, 17 million of which are children, 6.7 million who have "severe" food shortages and the loss of 41 million acres of forest, pasture and rangeland since 1987 and the loss of highly productive farm land at a rate of 1 million acres annually development (American Farmland Trust), this proposal seems unreal.
 
   How is the U.S. agricultural sector going to meet the needs of 3 billion more people in the world to feed by the year 2050, with these decisions?  If you would be more interested in finding out more about this, please feel free to contact me.  I am interested in someone shedding a little light on our situation.  Thank you for your consideration.
Marko Manoukian

***Editor's Note:  Below is a transcript of John's comments regarding CRP from the February 506, 2011 edition of U.S. Farm Report...
 
   TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG....A PERTINENT QUESTION ABOUT CRP PAYMENTS FROM HANS SACRISON IN KALISPELL, MONTANA.
    "YOU INDICATED SOME OF THE FARM LAND (WASTE LAND) ON YOUR FARM WAS UNDER CRP OR A SIMILAR PROGRAM. YOU SAID YOU WOULD NOT FARM THIS LAND IN ANY CASE. MY QUESTION: WHY SHOULD THE TAXPAYERS PAY YOU NOT TO FARM LAND YOU WOULD NOT FARM ANYWAY?"
    WHY INDEED? YOU HAVE PUT YOUR FINGER ON A TROUBLING ASPECT OF FARM PROGRAMS IN GENERAL. IF, AS WE OFTEN SAY, FARMERS ARE THE BEST ENVIRONMENTALISTS, WE SHOULD NOT NEED MONETARY ENCOURAGEMENT TO DO THE RIGHT THING. AND IN TRUTH A LOT OF FRAGILE ACRES ARE VOLUNTARILY KEPT OUT OF PRODUCTION TO PREVENT EROSION.
    BUT TO GET FILTER STRIPS ALONG WATERWAYS BUILT CORRECTLY, FOR EXAMPLE, AND TO ENCOURAGE ABSENTEE FARMOWNERS TO PROTECT THE SOIL, SUCH PAYMENTS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
    OF COURSE, WE COULD ALSO ACCOMPLISH THESE GOALS BY REGULATION -SIMPLY MAKING IT THE LAW. BUT IF YOU HAVEN'T NOTICED THERE IS CONSIDERABLE PUSHBACK ARISING FROM ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION, SO LEGISLATORS DECIDED TO USE THE CARROT INSTEAD OF THE STICK.
    THERE IS ANOTHER SUBTLER ADVANTAGE TO PAYING FOR RIGHT ACTIONS. THOSE PAYMENTS ARE LEVERAGE TO ENCOURAGE OTHER ACTIONS. SO STOPPING THE CONSERVATION RESERVE MIGHT HAVE SOME CURIOUS CONSEQUENCES.
   FINALLY, WE SHOULD NOTE THAT WE MAY BE ABOUT TO FIND OUT HOW NECESSARY SUCH GOVERNMENT PAYMENTS ARE AS BUDGET CUTTERS NEED TO FIND BILLIONS TO REDUCE THE DEFICIT.
 
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