Perhaps Congress can succeed where farmers could not.
Twenty-five House members now have sent a letter to President Obama asking that farmers temporarily be allowed to grow feed grains on land in the Conservation Reserve Program. The idea is to head off a looming grain shortage that could play havoc with food prices later in the year.
Despite record production, grain supplies are dwindling as corn is siphoned off for other uses, including production of renewable fuels such as corn based-ethanol. (USDA recently estimated surplus corn supplies of just 14 days -- the lowest "carryover" on record.) Today the U.S. is a net ethanol exporter. Meanwhile, meat prices have risen nearly 7 percent in the last year, more than triple the inflation rate. “At a time when our nation is struggling economically, including high levels of unemployment, soaring prices will have a particularly devastating effect,” the House members said.
There are currently 32 million acres out of production on CRP contracts. A significant amount of those acres is environmentally non-sensitive land that could be used to produce crops if the Agriculture Department would release it. NPPC already made this request twice, once in a letter and once in a meeting with Secretary Tom Vilsack. NPPC also supported the April 8 congressional letter spearheaded by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.