Johanns weighs change to conservation policy

DES MOINES - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said Thursday that the next farm law needs a balance between programs that take farmland out of production and programs that improve soil conservation on cropland.
calendar icon 9 June 2006
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Johanns spoke to an invitation-only lunch at the World Pork Expo at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines and unveiled a 41-page paper that contains possible changes in the next farm bill's soil and water quality conservation programs.

He emphasized that the policy alternatives outlined in the paper "are not USDA policy proposals, rather an effort by some of the finest economists in the world to provide straightforward information."

However, one of the alternatives laid out by the administration is to overhaul the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to take land out of production.

Critics of the program have long argued that retiring crop land hurts small communities and prevents young farmers from getting acreage to cultivate. Joy Philippi, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a hog producer from Bruning, Neb., said conservation is the priority for hog producers when the next farm bill is debated.

Source: Des Moines Register

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