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Ag groups asking Vilsack to allow production on conservation acres

Ag groups asking Vilsack to allow production on conservation acres

Producing more grain will help offset loss of Ukrainian production

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

U.S. ag groups are asking Agriculture Secretary Vilsack for permission to plant crops on acres enrolled in conservation programs to offset losses of Ukrainian production due to the conflict in that country.

Seven organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Grain and Feed Association and the North American Export Grain Association, want American farmers to be able to produce crops on about 4.1 million acres of “prime farmland” enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

For context, Ukrainian farmers planted about 13 million acres of corn in 2021.

The CRP, administered by the Farm Services Agency, provides farmers with a yearly rental payment in exchange for removing environmentally sensitive lands from agricultural production.

As of this February, the U.S. had more than 22 million total acres enrolled in CRP.

Ukraine, sometimes referred to as Europe’s breadbasket, provides 12 percent of the world’s wheat, 15 percent of global corn, 15 percent of barley and half of the world’s sunflower oil.

As the conflict between Ukraine and Russia continues, countries like the U.S. must be able to make up for production losses in Ukraine.

“The United States needs to produce more grain and oilseeds to offset the loss of Ukraine’s grain and sunflowers. Time is of the essence,” the groups wrote in a March 23 letter addressed to Vilsack.

Ukrainian farmers are going ahead with planting.

Reports from the country indicate farmers have planted about 988,000 acres of crops as of March 31.

But with the uncertainty of the situation in Ukraine, American farmers are ready to do what they can.

“The U.S. should do all it can to feed a growing hungry population now threatened by a likely global production shortfall by reassessing vital productive acres being idled here at home,” the letter says. “Our members stand ready to carry out their respective roles along the agricultural value chain to produce, transform, and deliver a safe, abundant and affordable food supply.” has contacted the United States Department of Agriculture for comment.

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