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Farmers reconsider arrangement to leave fields unsued

SPRINGFIELD -- Farmers who've been paid to not farm their land are reconsidering the arrangement.
SPRINGFIELD -- Farmers who've been paid to not farm their land are reconsidering the arrangement. They say the ethanol boom in the past few years has made their crops more valuable than ever. WCIA-3's Alex Davis keeps us Connected to the Capitol.
In 2010, Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage was at 31.3 million, but dropped to 29.5 million in 2012. The idea was to help the environment by allowing farmland to return to its natural state and reduce surplus production. But, some say things are different now because of the demand for ethanol.

It's a common sight this time of year; area farmers preparing their fields for next year's crop. Thanks to the ethanol boom, the prospects for next year have been promising. That's why some farmers are getting out of their CRP contracts and back into the field.

"Based on whether or not it's ethanol, I can't really answer that question because of high corn prices, yes, it was, you know, that played a factor, so you did have people pulling out of the CRP."

For 45-years, the U.S. Department of Ag has given landowners payments for protecting their land. In 2010, farmers left 31.3 million acres alone. It dropped to 29.5 million in 2012. During that same time span, corn prices went from $6/bushel to $8/bushel.

"I could understand why people would be pulling out at that time, but now that corn prices are lower again, from what I'm reading are going to be trending lower or staying at that same level, I don't know that pulling out of a CRP contract right now is going to be quite as lucrative."

Prices are around $4/bushel now. That's why Garry Niemeyer, with the National Corn Growers' Association, says ethanol isn't the problem.

"It's not ethanol forcing people to produce more corn. That's not the case."

Niemeyer says last year's drought is more likely the culprit.

"When we have lower yields, we have higher prices and higher demand for corn and soybeans, so, with that in mind, farmers farmed for the market and planted more corn."

Niemeyer also says the 2008 Farm Bill played a role because it reduced farmers' profits.
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