March 15, 2011
being raised about the economic impacts of a Federal program that pays farmers to leave their land idle rather
than plant crops. Does it help or hurt small rural communities?
Concerns about the Government’s
Conservation Reserve Program are being heard in areas such as Whitman County where small towns like Colfax are in
decline. Commissioner Greg Partch claims CRP is “killing our towns”
In Douglas County towns such as
Mansfield and Waterville have also relied on wheat farming to sustain them. Those towns have also experienced an
economic decline, But Commissioner Dale Snyder is convinced that CRP had anything to do with that . .
program last year paid Washington farmers 84.6 million dollars to leave 1.4 million acres for wildlife habitat or
Partch complains that the federal payments stifle local economies . He says when farmland
is taken out of production for ten years, fuel and fertilizer isn’t purchased and jobs are lost.
County currently has over 141-thousand acres enrolled in CRP with an additional 63 thousand acres protected under
the Federal SAFE, or State’s Access For Environment, program.