U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today questioned U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during a Senate Committee on Agriculture hearing on the state of the agriculture economy. Thune discussed the lack of common-sense guidance and policy for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which is critical to South Dakota agriculture as an economic alternative to farming marginal and fragile lands. Additionally, CRP provides most of the brood-rearing habitat for South Dakota’s pheasant population, which brings in more than $250 million to the state’s economy.
Thune also noted that South Dakota landowners offered more than 40,000 acres in the most recent general CRP sign-up, of which only 101 acres were accepted. Additional continuous CRP acres are needed in South Dakota for State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement and duck nesting habitat practices.
Excerpt from Thune’s remarks:
“Mr. Secretary, as you know, over the past couple of years, and a couple of farm bills, we’ve had an ongoing conversation about conservation programs, in particular, the CRP program, which I continue to believe is the cornerstone of all USDA-administered conservation reserve programs. One of the concerns that I hear from constituents in South Dakota about CRP is that there is a lack of common-sense when it comes to guidance and policy coming out of Washington.”