The top two Senate Agriculture Committee leaders sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns last week strongly encouraging USDA to conduct the 2006 sign-up for the Conservation Security Program within the next few weeks.
The letter from Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Ranking Member Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, say the Natural Resource Conservation Service has finalized its plans for 2006 and is ready to begin enrollment but is being prohibited by the Office of Management and Budget from doing so.
"Many farmers and ranchers use the winter months to make plans for their farming and conservation needs," the letter states. "We believe the success of many conservation programs could be improved by scheduling sign-up periods to coincide at the same time."
The Senate leaders also noted in order to fully assess CSP before the next farm bill, the program needs to be implemented to the greatest extent possible. "Unnecessary, bureaucratic, administrative delays only frustrate the farmers and ranchers who want to participate in the program. Thy also will make our job during the farm bill debate more difficult for no reason," the letter says.