Micheal Clements, NAFB News Service
A Senator from Minnesota wants the Department of Agriculture to increase incentive payments to stop the enrollment decline in the Conservation Reserve Program. Senate Democrat Tina Smith sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week asking him to significantly increase Practice Incentive Payments and begin making rental rate incentive payments, both tools that past Administrations have used to maintain strong enrollment in CRP. Joined by four other Democratic colleagues in the Senate, the lawmakers pointed out that during a time of declining CRP enrollment, USDA has offered Practice Incentive Payments at only five percent of the cost of the practice, even after the 2018 Farm Bill authorized USDA to pay farmers up to 50 percent of the cost. Past Administrations have also offered rental rate payments to incentivize enrollment, something the Trump Administration has not done. In 2020, 5.36 million acres of CRP land are scheduled to expire, while just 3.54 million acres have enrolled in the program, resulting in the loss of nearly two million acres.