June 27, 2008
June 27, 2008 - The American Meat Institute and more than 100 other members of the Alliance for Agricultural Growth and Competitiveness is calling on U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Secretary Ed Schafer to immediately allow a penalty-free, early release of non-environmentally sensitive cropland from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Citing USDA reports this month which are further confirming that this year's basic crops are confronting enormous, unprecedented challenges, an early-out CRP option is becoming more and more an urgent necessity.
In a letter to Secretary Schafer, the coalition acknowledged that the USDA's recent decision to allow haying and grazing on a portion of land enrolled in the CRP is a positive step but said this option will not adequately alleviate the direct pressure on the livestock industry or the increased feed cost pressures on other segments of agriculture and food industries.
The need for additional acres is reaching a peak as production levels shift and stocks remain low, the letter stated. Based on USDA estimates, corn, wheat and soybean supplies will remain incredibly tight leaving no room for a poor harvest. Yet, it is known that production levels will be less than expected given the flooding in the Midwest. In Iowa, for example, some reports estimate that as much as 20 percent of the corn crop will be damaged.
"The undersigned organizations and companies believe that, given the current and foreseeable crop supply conditions, increased flexibility for CRP contracts will allow U.S. agriculture to better meet the unprecedented growth and demand for agricultural commodities," the letter concluded.