WASHINGTON, D.C. — With adverse weather conditions and disease devastating farms in the Upper Midwest and the Great Plains, Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Smith (R-OR) and a bi-partisan group of four committee members from the affected region wrote to Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman today urging him to use the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to help alleviate the economic impact of these disasters.
"Producers in these states face total losses of income and, thus, their families' livelihoods if we do not respond with every federal resource available," the Members wrote. "As you know, millions of CRP acres could be available immediately to alleviate the tragic consequences our farmers are facing now in the Upper Midwest and Great Plains."
Approximately 10 million acres of CRP will become available over the next 14 months, six million of which are immediately available under the 36.4 million acre cap authorized by the 1985 FSA. As acres expire in the coming months, the Secretary will have the authority to enroll additional acres affected by multiple year disasters into the program, thereby meeting the needs of hundreds of farmers in the Northern Great Plains.
"You obviously can appreciate the need for immediate action. You have the authority to act now. We and hundreds of American farmers urge you to act to enroll as many of these acres as possible in the CRP," the Members wrote.
"The farms we're talking about have already lost several years' crops, and they have little or no prospect of producing viable crops for the next several years. These folks have no way to produce the income necessary to save their family farms. We are calling on the Secretary to use the full authorities he has under CRP to help as many of these families as possible. This is something he can do today on his own authority and we are urging him to act without delay," Smith said.
Members signing the letter in addition to Chairman Smith were Representatives John Thune (R-SD), Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), Collin Peterson (D-MN), and David Minge (D-MN).
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District — which includes most of eastern, southern, and central Oregon — in the U.S. House of Representatives.