House Ag subcommittee evaluates conservation programs |

House Ag subcommittee evaluates conservation programs

Frank Lucas

The House Agriculture Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee on Tuesday held the first of what Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., chairman of the subcommittee, said would be a series of hearings on conservation policies as Congress considers the next farm bill.

“As we begin our work on the next farm bill, conservation policy will continue to be based on voluntary, incentive-based practices that enable producers to continue preserving the land to enhance its long-term viability for the future,” Lucas said.

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said at the hearing that he would like to see the Conservation Reserve program, a land-idling program, get back to 35 or even 40 million acres in this next farm bill.

“This increase will improve water quality and address the declining wildlife populations we’ve experienced in my region of the country,” Peterson said. “I think we can find a way to get there, but we will need to simplify and reform the program; I wouldn’t support an increase in acres without some changes.

“I’m going to be looking at ways to make CRP less complicated and more affordable on rental rates,” he concluded. “I’m also interested in steps we can take to bring the program up to date — perhaps by repealing the requirement that program, or base, acres are needed to sign up.”