Congressman Devin Nunes and 25 House Colleagues called on President Barack Obama to release willing farmers from their Conservation Reserve Program Contracts in order to produce additional grain. With Americans facing rising food prices and government officials predicting the possibility of grain shortages, immediate action is necessary to enhance U.S. production.
See letter below:
April 8, 2011
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
We write to request that you allow willing farmers with arable land to temporarily produce grains on land that has been restricted under Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts. This action is urgently needed and, to maximize production, must be made by May 1, 2011.
As a highly developed nation with a long history of abundance and consumer choice, Americans have largely been free of food shortages. However, warning signs related to the production and availability of grains has increasingly pointed to the need for action. Current stocks are at a 15 year low and global demand is growing. Analysts have indicated that the market is moving toward rationing, a conclusion that is supported by grain stock projections by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which suggest the likelihood that there will be end-of-year shortages.
Grain shortages and the resulting high prices will severely impact food production at a time when our nation is struggling economically, including high levels of unemployment, soaring prices will have a particularly devastating effect. Low-income Americans are highly vulnerable to rising food prices. In addition, food assistance programs will be hard-hit -- compounding the problem.
We believe it is essential to increase grain production in the United States to minimize the disruption to our economy by high food prices. To accomplish this, USDA must release, without penalty, arable CRP land to willing farmers who are able to produce grains. Each new acre of production will help improve the situation.
Finally, while we understand that not all of the 31.3 million acrse currently under contract are viable for grain production we do believe that significant acreage can yield crops. To prevent a crisis, USDA must act to provide immediate relief to the distressed market by releasing CRP land as appropriate to produce grains.
Thank you for your consideration.
"Americans deserve a government that plans for the future. That means responding to threats of grain shortages, not just predicting them. Releasing some land from CRP contract will provide an infusion of additional production that is desperately needed. It's a decision the President can make and one he should act upon as quickly as possible," said Rep. Devin Nunes.
Record Production / Falling Stocks
In 2011, grain production in the United States is expected to cover 92 million acres -- one of the largest plantings in more than 50 years. Yet despite this enormous production, domestic supplies of grains are falling at the fastest rate ever recorded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Meanwhile, U.S. consumer food prices (for proteins) have risen by 6.8% in the past year, more than triple inflation. The costs of staple commodities are rising at an alarming rate, threatening the weakened U.S. economy but also pushing struggling families beyond their limits.
Global demand for grains has soared and various national and international agencies are predicting that shortages are likely. As a result, many nations are stockpiling reserves. Throughout Asia and the developing world, governments are working to establish significant reserves. It is time for the U.S. government to recognize the crisis and take action.
Congressman Nunes and his colleagues believe it is essential for the President to act. The USDA can promote increased grain production by releasing willing farmers of arable land from the Conservation Reserve Program. There are 32 million acres currently out of production under CRP contracts. A significant amount of this land could be used to produce crops.