U.S. Rep. Martha Roby raises Alabama farmer concerns as committee eyes farm bill
In a recent Agriculture Committee Hearing, U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, questioned USDA administrators about the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and how agriculture programs can be streamlined to be more effective and efficient.
The hearing was another in a series of committee sessions preparing for a new farm bill.
Roby’s office said her questions came directly from recent listening sessions she held with the Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan in Alabama June 30.
Many Alabama farmers complained that the CRP, designed to encourage soil conservation and environmental protection, has taken too much land out of production.
Under the CRP, landowners get an annual rental payment by planting grass or trees. In Alabama, CRP land is converted into long leaf pine. Putting the land into reserve for long leaf pine takes it out of production for too many years, farmers told Roby. It is then too hard to move it quickly back into production. Also, government-backed rents can increase the price of land, her office said.
"... has the CRP served its purpose and is no longer needed?" she asked during hearings. "And what changes might we make to CRP to ensure that needed, much needed, land stays in productive agriculture?”
The committee is working to weigh the effectiveness and cost of a variety of farm and food programs included in the farm bill.
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