The National Grain and Feed Foundation is working on a study with former USDA undersecretary and former chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service Bruce Knight on the types of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The National Grain and Feed Foundation is the education and research non-profit connected to the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA). The study will “quantify specifically which are good quality farmland acres that maybe should not be in the program any longer or not be eligible for re-enrollment when their current contract expires,” Randy Gordon, acting president of NGFA, said recently.

Gordon said at the association’s annual convention that the preliminary results of the study show that roughly 8 million acres in the CRP are class 1 & 2 farmland.  Under NRCS classifications, class 1 farmland has “slight limitations that restrict its use,” while class 2 farmland has “moderate limitations that reduce the choice of plants or require moderate conservation practices.”

Gordon said that the full study is expected to be released in mid-April.  “Our emphasis there (on the farm bill) is on trying to reform the Conservation Reserve Program to make sure that good farmland that is not environmentally sensitive is no longer in that program.  We need those acres to compete, and we think farmers themselves are bringing some of those acres back out as their contract expire.”

In the next two years, nearly 10 million acres of CRP will be up for re-enrollment.  Gordon said that NGFA supports lowering the cap on acres enrolled in CRP from the current 32 million acres to 25 million acres.  “It’s a good chance, a budget-driving chance, to try and do what’s right in reshaping the CRP to what its real intent is, in our view, and that is to protect truly environmental sensitive land,” Gordon said.