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Or CRP could be extended, which seems more likely. The question is now being tackled by the Resource Conservation, Research and Forestry Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee. The subcommittee is chaired by Colorado's own Representative Wayne Allard, who has more than a passing interest in CRP.

According to an analysis of the program performed last year by a Washington, D.C., organization called Environmental Working Group, Allard's district in eastern Colorado receives more CRP money than all but four other Congressional districts. By the time the original program expires at the end of this year, about $821 million in direct government payments will have flowed to people who own farmland in his Fourth Congressional District.

One of Allard's employees, Doug Benevento, is the staff director of the subcommittee. He predicts that the Conservation Reserve Program will be extended for another decade, although it may be scaled back slightly. "CRP has been very important to the Plains region, because it has reduced soil erosion a great deal," he says. "We think it's a good program."

So, apparently, do the owners of Colorado Farms, who stand to qualify for another ten years of lucrative CRP subsidies. Recently, the Missouri company put the land up for sale, according to Ernie Hammer, the Otero/Crowley County conservation officer. Hammer says he considered trying to buy the place for ranching. It was listed for $3 million. But several months ago, with CRP appearing increasingly likely to continue, the asking price was bumped up to $5 million.

end of part 2

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Eric Dexheimer
Contact: Eric Dexheimer