More than 70 agriculture-related associations and companies including the Agricultural Retailers Association wrote leaders of the congressional agriculture committees earlier this month urging “flexibility” in the conservation reserve program (CRP).

The letter described a new report/paper on major risk factors for global grain supplies, published by a consulting group that advises commercial clients on market conditions. As the letter to the committee chairman noted, “The paper concludes that the world may well be short of grain supplies going forward and needs some plan of action. The United States has not attempted to compete to produce additional supplies of grains and oilseeds for a number of years, as we have kept millions of acres of land idled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). This has left the United States without the ability to respond to market conditions that would normally direct more plantings to fill grain and oilseed supply needs for processors, livestock operators, and other sectors.”

Of course, backlash from environmental groups against farming some ground deemed as inappropriate for cropping has occurred, but having ARA involved in the effort to increase CRP flexibility and remove some acres from the CRP should be seen as a positive.

The reputation of ARA members should be one of positive education to their clients and customers on proper cropping to limit soil and nutrient losses. Recommendations by ARA members hopefully are seen as ways to farm in a sustainable manner rather than simply to sell product at the expense of the environment.  Environmental respect has been a big part of what ARA has professed and recognized by its members.