Elimination of Conservation Reserve Program Proven Costly to Taxpayers
WASHINGTON – The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) and its Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group (AWWG) today announced the results of a University of Tennessee study which indicates that planting land currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to commodity crops, including wheat, corn and soybeans, could cost taxpayers an additional $33 billion.
Partner organizations of the TRCP, including the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Pheasants Forever and Wildlife Management Institute, as well as other groups, contributed to this study, which was conducted by the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee.
The study reveals that increasing the CRP enrollment to its current statutory cap of 39.2 million acres by 2015 raises net farm income by $600 million. The study also projected that raising the CRP cap and increasing enrollment to 45 million acres by 2015 would increase net farm income by $1.7 billion. “The environmental and wildlife benefits of the CRP have been well-documented,” said Dave Nomsen, AWWG co-chair and Vice-President of Governmental Affairs at Pheasants Forever, “and the CRP contributes significantly to the $730 billion annual outdoor recreation economy.” He added, “This study points out that a CRP enrollment of 45 million acres would not only dramatically enhance the environment and wildlife habitat, but a CRP enrollment at this level also makes sound fiscal sense as well.”
During its 20-year existence the CRP has rolled up an impressive list of accomplishments across America’s rural landscape. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics:
• More than $1.6 is billion paid in annual CRP rental payments to agricultural producers.
• CRP reduces the annual cropland soil loss by about 450 million tons – enough to fill approximately 37.5 million dump trucks.
• CRP restored 2 million acres of wetlands and adjacent buffers. • CRP protected 170 thousand miles of streams.
• CRP sequesters 48 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
• CRP produces 15 million pheasants annually.
• CRP supports 2.2 million ducks per year in the Prairie Pothole Region. According to Jen Mock, Farm Bill Coordinator for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and an AWWG co-chair, “The CRP has proven its value to America by the societal, environmental and wildlife, and economic benefits realized since its inception in 1985.” Mock continued, “The APAC study results prove that failure to reauthorize the CRP in the 2007 Farm Bill would be a colossal mistake – for farmers and ranchers, taxpayers, the environment, and wildlife.” Additional USDA statistics show the following economic benefits thanks to the CRP:
• Soil productivity benefits - $162 million • Hunting migratory waterfowl - $122 million
• Reducing runoff from fields - $392 million
• Wildlife viewing - $629 million “CRP is one of the most effective programs for promoting wildlife populations that this country has ever seen,” said TRCP President and CEO Matthew B. Connolly Jr. “Today’s report highlights its essential nature.” *** The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is a coalition of leading conservation organizations and individual grassroots partners, working together to conserve fish and wildlife and their habitat, increase funding for conservation and management, and expand access to places to hunt and fish.