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Harkin continues to urge early use of CRP for forage

Agriculture.com Staff 06/26/2008 @ 10:45am

Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who heads the Senate Agriculture Committee, said Thursday that he still has not gotten an answer from Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer on using Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land for hay production immediately.

"I called Schafer. I talked to him on Tuesday, and I urged hime with all due speed to approave moving up the August date for haying, and for grazing," Harkin told Agriculture Online Thursday. "We still have not heard from him on that.

"This shouldn't take a lot of consternation on moving up haying and grazing. We ought to be able to get that done...," Harkin said.

Schafer said during a press conference Wednesday that he would be making a decision on what to do with CRP land in the 2009 crop year "over the next couple of weeks," but didn't directly address Harkin's request.

Harkin's Iowa colleague in the Senate, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, has called for early release of CRP land that's not highly erodible for cropping as well. That's something that Harkin opposes, citing his concern about potential soil erosion and water quality.

Harkin also said that nine out of 10 Iowa farms need grassed waterways. Continuous CRP can be used to help pay for grassed waterways.

"We've got to get that money out there to get that job done," Harkin said.

Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell, joined his fellow democrat Harkin as well as the rest of the Iowa House Delegation in sending a letter to Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer requesting an immediate release of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres in Iowa. Boswell staffers say many believe an August 1 CRP release for haying and grazing might be too late for many livestock producers.

"Releasing this acreage will guarantee that our producers are able to stay in production while ensuring we have the safest, most plentiful and affordable food supply in the world," Boswell said Thursday.

Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who heads the Senate Agriculture Committee, said Thursday that he still has not gotten an answer from Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer on using Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land for hay production immediately.

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