Congresswoman Martha Roby

Representing the 2nd District of Alabama

Roby pushes for more cropland to be reserved for agriculture

November 22, 2011
Roby in the News
More of Alabama’s cropland would be available for traditional farming under new legislation introduced by Montgomery's freshman representative in Congress.
U.S Rep. Martha Roby says the attempt seeks to revamp one of Department of Agriculture's most well-known programs.

The bill would make changes to the USDA’s Conservation Resource Program to limit the government’s growing practice of paying landowners to set aside fertile acres of cropland in long-term conservation programs.

According to estimates by the House Committee on Agriculture, Roby's proposal would save taxpayers billions.

“Applying smart conservation techniques on marginal or eroded land makes good sense, but the federal government’s use of taxpayer dollars to encourage landowners to remove acres of quality cropland from agricultural production defies logic,” Roby said. “This is especially true in a time of serious budget problems and growing demand for food at home and abroad," she said in a statement.

Congress established CRP in 1985 to promote conservation on highly eroded lands or other environmentally sensitive land by providing payments to landowners who convert it into a vegetative cover such as grass or timber. Over time, the eligibility requirements for the program have softened to allow payments for conservation on some high quality cropland.

Roby's press release says she took an interest in the measure after hearing area farmers repeatedly raise concerns about the practice.

“One of the things I hear repeatedly from our farmers is that the federal bureaucracy needs to get out of the way and let farmers do what they do best,” Roby said. “The government shouldn’t compete with our farmers or the free market to determine how private land in Alabama or any other state is used.”

The legislation is H.R. 3454, the Preserving Marginal Lands and Protecting Farming Act of 2011, and was recently introduced in the House of Representatives.

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