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Congressional Update


A bill sponsored by House Agriculture Chairman Robert F. Smith to extend
enrollment for land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) by one
year passed in the House by a 325-92 vote on Tuesday, April 29.  Under
the bill, the Agriculture Department would be required to re-enroll
winter crop land in the program if the owner has submitted a bid for the
next cycle of the program.  There are currently 32 million acres
enrolled, with 21 million acres expiring in 1997.  The statutory cap on
acreage enrollment in the CRP is 36.4 million.

The Department of Agriculture is currently considering bids for
enrollment in CRP for 1998, and the announcement of which bids will be
accepted is expected by the end of May.  Secretary of Agriculture Dan
Glickman opposes the extension plan.  The effect of an extension on
current enrollments would be to cut into the allotment of new
enrollments for 1998.  In the Great Lakes region, farmers who want to
enroll land in the CRP continuous enrollment program for water
conservation would also face a more limited number of new openings.

The Senate will consider the extension bill next, but the question would
become moot of the USDA announces successful bids before the Senate can
pass the bill.  The bill is expected to have some problems with passage
in the Senate, and Congress breaks for a recess on May 23, so the time
frame for this proposal is limited.

For more information on the CRP program and the extension proposal,
contact Dave Stawick of the Senate Agriculture Committee at

Sara J. Gottlieb
House Great Lakes Task Force Staff
Office of the Honorable Steven LaTourette
1239 Longworth HOB
phone: (202) 225-5731
FAX: (202) 225-3307