USDA Secretary Ed Schafer says he does not expect the 8 percent fewer corn acres in the March 31 Prospective Plantings report to be a long-term issue.
“We don’t see this being an effort that will require drastic actions,” he notes, and that early release of Conservation Reserve Program acres is not needed. He did point out that farmers can get out of their CRP contracts, as long as they understand there will be penalties.
“If they want to get out, they can repay the taxpayers,” Schafer notes, “and if the economic conditions are such, to where it is worthwhile to do so, they are free to do so.”
He doesn't think early release of CRP is the answer to increasing the corn crop or meeting demand. "Certainly export restrictions are not an answer and it is not something we are interested in at all,” Schafer adds. “The basic answer is, we don’t see any need for drastic action here to try and manage price.”
On another note, in a recent interview with Brownfield network, Schafer said that USDA remains committed to a voluntary National Animal Identification System.“I like to see public policy generated that encourages people to engage;one that helps them recognize the benefits of being involved in an interactive relationship with government,” he said. “I don’t like government telling people what to do.”
He said that progress was being made through the voluntary system. “Of course we have to do it voluntarily or our friends on Capital Hill are going to step in and make it mandatory,” Schafer said.
Further, in order to have an effective Country-of-Origin Labeling program, animal ID is necessary, he noted. If there's a desire to properly label meats we ought to be able to track animals, and that’s a National Animal ID System,” said Schafer.