Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns told the Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday that USDA is considering allowing the release of some Conservation Reserve Program acres.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told Johanns that many farmers want to be able to use acres currently enrolled in CRP, a land-idling program, due to current high prices on corn and other crops.
USDA said Monday that it would like to limit the amount of new CRP acres over the next two years, and Johanns says that any acreage allowed out of CRP this year wouldn't go into production until 2008.
A decision on whether or not to release those acres will depend on what USDA's estimation of corn planted area, which Johanns says will be clearer in 60-90 days. "We should have a decision by early summer," he says.
"No general sign-ups are assumed in 2007 and (2008) due to the increase in corn production needed to meet the demand for ethanol," Johanns said in a press briefing Monday. This halt would lower CRP acres from 37.1 million in 2007 to 33.6 million in 2008.