Farmer Michele Kiesz should not “gloat … about the condition of her ‘CRP’” if it is truly a weedy hill, as described in Nicholas Deshais’ article, “Drained: Deeper wells are only a temporary fix, so plans to tap into the Columbia River are underway” (May 27, 2018).
As the article goes on to explain, the purpose of the Conservation Reserve Program, along with other U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs, is “to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality.” These species are not weeds. Often they are native grasses, wildflowers and shrubs that restore soil and water and protect wildlife. Some of the state’s most vulnerable wildlife species, such as greater sage-grouse, pygmy rabbit and bull trout, might have disappeared without our farmers’ and ranchers’ participation in these programs.
Reauthorization of the Farm Bill is currently being considered by Congress. Washington is seeking increased funding for CRP and other agriculture conservation programs in the new bill. As our state becomes more populous, these programs become more critical to the health of our environment, including water preservation.