The Conservation Reserve Program is facing criticism on Capitol Hill for outbidding cash rental rates on productive farmland, idling whole farms and challenging beginning farmers.
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, told USDA officials that Iowans have written her saying high CRP cash rents were undermining their operation.
She says, "And in one instance he was outbid by over 100 dollars, per acre by the government. The same thing happened to one of his sons in 2016, who lost 80 acres of land to a pollinator program where he had recently installed a center pivot irrigation system."
Ernst says instead of idling whole farms, working lands conservation programs should target marginal lands.
However, the Farm Service Agency says programs like the CRP can be highly incentive for smaller farms. There is even a program that lets retiring farmers have an extra two years of CRP rental payments if they transition land to beginning farmers.
Ernst says retiring farmers take productive acres out of production, which hurts beginning farmers.