Plowing CRP Ground is Like Building a House, Setting it on Fire to Collect the Insurance, Then Not Having Anywhere to Stay when Colder Weather Arrives

The dramatic statement highlighted in this column’s headline was among comments received from over 150 no-tillers who answered a recent No-Till Farmer email survey dealing with bringing Crop Reserve Program (CRP) ground back into cash crop production.

As you might guess, most no-tillers believe it’s been a mistake to lose the environmental benefits built up over the last 10-20 years by using extensive tillage to cash crop this land.

The original CRP intent was to protect sensitive land from soil erosion, avoid soil degradation, provide needed wildlife habitat, reduce grain surpluses, and let landowners set aside less productive ground while receiving government payments.

Others indicate there’s still hope for adequately protecting CRP acres if more stringent reduced tillage and soil loss rules are part of the 2018 Farm Bill. 

Some farm groups have even gone so far as to support a limitation on CRP payments — sometimes as high as $300 an acre — that unfortunately boost land rental rates for other growers.

Strong No-Till Convictions

One question asked in our exclusive No-Till Farmer survey dealt with whether extensive tillage has destroyed most of the soil protection benefits built up over the years with CRP. Some 85% of no-tillers said yes.

We also asked if the CRP program had met its promises, been beneficial and worth the extensive government investment. Only 45% felt the long-time program has been worthwhile.

Despite the fact most growers don’t believe the government should be involved in making tillage decisions, 50% felt the feds should…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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