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STATEMENT BY ACTING SECRETARY CHUCK CONNER REGARDING THE CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture will not offer penalty-free early releases from Conservation Reserve Program contracts at this time. While this year's global wheat market remains very tight, corn production is expected to be record-high, and today's grain stocks report indicated higher than expected stocks for corn and soybeans at the start of the 2007/08 crop year. In addition, more than 2 million CRP acres expire under existing contracts this weekend, on September 30, 2007."
"Wheat, soybean, and corn markets are providing very strong incentives to plant more acreage this fall and next spring. Throughout this year, the market focused on attracting corn acres, and to a lesser extent, wheat acres. Producers responded strongly, with corn acres increasing to their highest level since 1944. Wheat market prices are indicating an expected significant increase in planted area this fall and next spring in the U.S. and around the world. The potential exists for increased double-cropping and the planting of fallow ground. Overall, I expect that market signals will continue to provide adequate acres, recognizing that strong competition among crops is likely."
"I would not anticipate offering a general signup while grain stock levels remain historically low and prices continue at unprecedented levels. Acres under continuous CRP signup, such as filter strips and riparian buffers, are not affected by general signup decisions. Enrollment of acres that qualify for continuous signup is ongoing."
"I will continue to closely monitor the acreage response and market conditions. I will not hesitate in the future to make adjustments to USDA programs if needed to achieve balance in the agricultural sector."