Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says he’s not going to let the rush to produce more ethanol trample the program that sets aside environmentally sensitive land that becomes habitat for wildlife. Harkin, a democrat who chairs the Senate Ag Committee, says farmers may be thinking about taking land out of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to plant corn and take advantage of high grain prices brought on by the ethanol boom.
Harkin says the conservation efforts need to continue, and he will allay the fears of the people at Pheasants Forever, as Harkin says he’s a pheasant hunter himself and wants to ensure that we have a strong CRP program. Harkin says producers need to realize we can’t meet all the ethanol demand with corn. He says there are alternatives that can be used and maintain a good balance.
Harkin says there has to be a "major push" to producing ethanol from cellulosic materials such as switchgrass, corn stover and things like wood pulp. Harkin says that means putting more research money in the farm bill, and incentives for farmers to move from producing row crops to energy producing crops. Harkin says pheasants and other wildlife aren’t the only concern.
Harkin says we have to be cognizant that the increasing corn prices could have a "devastating impact" on the livestock industry. Harkin will be in Des Moines this weekend to attend the National Pheasant Fest, where he says he’ll talk more about the conservation issues in the farm bill.