Press Release | 115th Congress
Opening Statement by Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson
Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry
The Next Farm Bill: Conservation Policy
--As Prepared for Delivery--
“Thank you Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Fudge for holding today’s hearing to review conservation policy in the next farm bill. We will be hearing testimony from a great panel of witnesses today; welcome to the Committee.
“At the Committee’s recent hearing on the farm economy I expressed my intent to take a good look at the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and simplify, reform and increase program acres. We lowered the cap on CRP in the 2014 Farm Bill because we were losing the acres anyway due to high commodity prices. So, because of the way the budget process works, we reduced CRP acres to protect the conservation baseline and help offset some of the cuts in Title 2.
“But, now, I would like to see us get back to 35 or even 40 million acres in this next farm bill. This increase will improve water quality and address the declining wildlife populations we’ve experienced in my region of the country. I think we can find a way to get there but we will need to simplify and reform the program; I wouldn’t support an increase in acres without some changes.
“I’m going to be looking at ways to make CRP less complicated and more affordable on rental rates. I’m also interested in steps we can take to bring the program up to date, perhaps by repealing the requirement that program, or base, acres are needed to sign up.
“By and large I think the current farm bill conservation programs are working and I am confident that, if we can address some of the budget challenges that could come up, the next farm bill will again include a strong conservation title.
“I am looking forward to hearing from today’s witnesses. Again, I thank the Chair for holding today’s hearing and yield back.”