Sen. John Thune wants USDA to stop requiring vegetative burns on Conservation Reserve Program acres.
Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday to complain about rules requiring participants in CRP to destroy residue off those acres rather than allowing it to be used as feed. Thune argues not only is it a waste of that forage but burning it costs more than feeding it to livestock.
Destroying that CRP residue is part of mid-contract management, which is done once on a 10y-year CRP contract and done twice on a 15-year contract.
"Several CRP participants and strong supporters of CRP in South Dakota have shared with me their displeasure over the restriction that permanent vegetative cover removed from land enrolled in any of the above-mentioned practices cannot be utilized in a practical and common sense manner in lieu of being destroyed. They are concerned that this requirement is a major factor in discouraging CRP enrollment in the subject practices," Thune wrote.
The senator added that several groups, including the South Dakota FSA committee, support his request to allow producers to graze the ground.
Thune wants to give CRP participants the option of using the residue or donating it to someone else. Such a decision would result in a 25% reduction in the CRP payment. Thune also said such haying or grazing would not be allowed during the primary nesting season.
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Thune asked Vilsack to consider the "common-sense change" for this year.
NSAC: CSP Renewal Coming
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition issued a release Monday alerting people that USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service will begin accepting re-enrollment applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program on July 11. This option would be available for landowners or producers who enrolled in CSP in 2010.
Roughly 20,000 contracts will expire this year. Under the reenrollment, people with those contracts will have a two-month window to reapply between July 11 and Sept. 12.
Chris Clayton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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