Thune Unveils New Farm Bill Conservation Proposal

March 2, 2017 10:42 AM

Republican Senator John Thune, R-S.D., is introducing a measure which gives producers another conservation option as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Thune is introducing the Soil Health and Income Protection Program, also known as SHIPP. It’s a voluntary program tackling both soil health and farming of less-productive land. Thune says the idea is designed for the ‘tough ag economic times we’re in.’

“We have farmers who are planting now and commodity prices that are below the cost of production. So, we’re trying to figure out how to provide an income protection program for farmers. {That’s} something that promotes soil health, which is good obviously for the environment, and a short term in duration in the event things start to improve and we hope that they will,” said Thune.

The SHIPP proposal is a shorter term conservation initiative than the Conservation Reserve or CRP program. Farmers would have to commit a maximum of 15 percent of their least productive acreage for three to five years, unlike the 10 to 15 year commitment farmers have with CRP acreage.

“Having a program like this which is three to five years in duration satisfies a lot of requirements that farmers are frustrated with about the CRP program,” said Thune.

Thune says this is an opportunity where farmers can get some income off of the land and perhaps crop it again in the future if prices and the farm economy improve.

Producers have an opportunity to plant the acreage with hay or alfalfa outside the nesting and brood-rearing period established for the county.  The SHIPP annual payment rate is half of the CRP general sign-up rental per acre rate for the county. Participating producers will also receive a slight increase in crop insurance premiums for the years their land is out of production.

Thune believes the program isn’t just a way to protect soil health but farmer income.

“If it’s embraced and subscribed to by a lot of farmers out there, it could reduce significantly the amount of acreage that’s in production and help perhaps perfect the supply and demand equilibrium that’s out there today which is continuing to put this downward pressure on prices,” said Thune.

The goal is to not have a national cap on acreage like the CRP program which is currently limited to 24 million acres. Thune said the Congressional Budget Office is analyzing his proposal to determine how much it may cost.

Thune sits on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. 

SHIPP At A Glance

  • Participation is voluntary
  • Operator chooses the land to be enrolled in SHIPP on each Farm Service Agency Farm Serial Number
  • Verification that the enrolled land is the least productive land on the FSN is required (as determined by the secretary)
  • Both landowner and operator must sign the SHIPP contract
  • Land is enrolled for 3-5 years. The secretary of agriculture can terminate contracts if deemed necessary
  • No more than 15% of cropland on an FSN can be enrolled in SHIPP
  • SHIPP acres have to have perennial conserving use cover
  • Annual payments will be half of the CRP general sign-up rental per acre for the rest of the country
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Spell Check

Jayne Novotny
Winner, SD
3/2/2017 04:18 PM

  Senator: what can you tell us about the cattle industry? We have been ranching for 23 years and this is the first yr I could not repay my operating note? We have a cow calf operation and are VERY conservative. The sharp drop in calf prices has about broke us! We hear it's the foreign cattle imports. Why are the facts? We do feed the world but can't if we all go broke Need help

Alan B.
3/2/2017 08:22 PM

  Interesting concept. Will have to see what it would cost.

Bruce J Hanson
Wesley, IA
3/3/2017 06:21 AM

  So basically the government, as it runs a deficit, would pay us half the CRP rate to skip a bag cutting for the pheasants. Three years is about the useful life of a new hay seeding so this would be a help to beef and dairy farmers but if beef imports from cheap low taxed land elsewhere in the world are killing the market for cattle production, why not close the gate? I would welcome the chance to become profitable on my farm so I could pay income tax and help reduce the Federal deficit. As the old saying goes, "You can starve a dog to death under your porch if you feed him just a little every day, but if you don't feed him.... he will run away.". This looks like another skinny bone.


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