With several unsettled issues including extensions and sign-ups, the Conservation Reserve Program was the subject of several questions from the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research earlier this month.

“It seems to me, you all live year-to-year, at best,” said Kansas Rep. Jerry Moran to Jonathan Coppess, administrator of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). “Farmers like to plan a lot longer than they’re able under (the current) scenario.”

Earlier in the hearing Coppess said President Obama’s budget includes a general sign-up for fiscal 2010 through 2012. However, before any sign-up begins, an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) must be completed. That isn’t expected until the summer of 2010.

“It seems this indicates there won’t be any general sign-up until 2011,” said Moran to Coppess. “What is the plan?”

Coppess said there is “potential” for a 2010 sign-up. “The contracts would be signed and go into place beginning in fiscal 2011 and payments (sent) out later.”

Moran: “When will you know if there will be a sign-up in 2010?”

“At this point, while we’re waiting for the regulation to be published, we’re evaluating that,” replied Coppess. “We won’t be able to put anything forward on a general sign-up until that part of the regulation is out — it’s awaiting the EIS. We’re in an unfortunate period of uncertainty. I understand that. We’re working to get that out as quickly as we can.”

e-mail: dbennett@farmpress.com