NPPC Supports Release of CRP Acres

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) applauds the federal court decision to let the U.S. Department of Agriculture proceed with processing applications from farmers seeking to modify their Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts to allow haying and grazing on non-critical land. The move is expected to ease pressure on corn and other commodity crops.
calendar icon 29 July 2008
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"We applaud USDA for initiating the CFU and we are pleased with this decision by the court to allow the program to move forward."
NPPC President, Byran Black

The ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle allows livestock producers to utilize acres in the CRP under USDA’s Critical Feed Use (CFU) initiative as long as applications to modify the contacts were submitted before 8 July 2008, the date the court issued a temporary restraining order against the CFU. Under a May 27 directive, farmers who participate in CRP could request to modify CRP contracts voluntarily for critical feed use, such as haying and grazing.

The court did issue an injunction against any applications filed after July 8, with one exception. An application can be approved if farmers can show that they made an investment of at least $4,500 toward haying and grazing equipment or preparation prior to the injunction date and that they relied on the CFU initiative to make the investment.

The court further ordered that for applications approved before July 8 haying and grazing must be completed by Nov. 10, 2008; for applications submitted before but approved after July 8 haying and grazing must be completed by Sept. 30, 2008.

The July 8 restraining order was issued by the court in response to a lawsuit filed by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) that sought to stop USDA’s CFU initiative. NWF claimed that the initiative would harm wildlife nesting and brood rearing areas. NPPC, along with the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, submitted a brief in support of USDA’s CFU initiative, pointing out that livestock producers are suffering significant losses because of rising grain prices and that the CFU initiative would ease the pressure on commodity crops.

“We applaud USDA for initiating the CFU” said NPPC President Byran Black, a pork producer from Canal Winchester, Ohio, “and we are pleased with this decision by the court to allow the program to move forward.”

In an initial decision by the district court issued July 18, Judge John C. Coughenour rejected a blanket ban on release of CRP acres, saying to do so “could be devastating to citizens who trusted that their government was acting legally in implementing the Critical Feed Use initiative, as well as to the nation and the world economy at large, if the Court issues the injunction.”

“The judge’s statements reaffirm for us just how important CRP acres can and will be to helping meet the need today for additional grain and feed acres,” Mr Black added. “We encourage USDA now also to move forward with a decision to allow the early release of productive CRP acres to fully address this need.”

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