Agricultural Leaders of Michigan has urged the USDA to allow landowners the opportunity to opt out of the Conservation Reserve Program without penalty, and encouraged Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) to include a provision in the 2012 Farm Bill that would give farmers more flexibility within the program. Senator Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, is holding the first 2012 Farm Bill hearing in Michigan on Tuesday, May 31.
The CRP currently idles millions of acres of productive farmland, and farmers face harsh penalties for removing their land from the program early. This land is sitting idle at a time when global demand is growing, grain is in short supply and adverse weather conditions have delayed the planting of many Michigan crops, and those all across the nation.
ALM is composed of farm groups and commodity organizations. In a press release the group says it is critical that farmers have the option of removing their land from the CRP early without facing harsh penalties. By releasing acres of highly productive land that is not environmentally sensitive, farmers will be able to boost production, meet rapidly increasing market demands and take advantage of rising crop prices.
"Allowing farmers to remove their land from the CRP without facing severe penalties is a sensible solution to addressing historically low feed grain supplies," says Sam Hines, executive vice president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association. "USDA recently estimated a corn reserve of only 14 days. Severe weather events such as a drought or flood, or a major foreign corn purchase, could cause regional feed grain shortages and jeopardize animal well-being. The only way to ensure that Michigan farmers can stay competitive is to increase production - and releasing productive land from the CRP will do just that."
"Low production levels and crop shortages not only harm commodity production, but those farmers that buy high priced corn and soybeans for feed," said George House, executive director of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries Inc. "In times of rising demand and difficult planting conditions, giving farmers the ability to opt out of the CRP would allow them to compete in today's global market. We look forward to working closely with Senator Stabenow as the 2012 Farm Bill is written to develop economically sound policies that protect Michigan farmers and benefit consumers."