USDA NEWS Forwarded from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) Beginning Farmer and Organic Production CRP Transition Option in Jeopardy: Last week we reported that USDA's Farm Service Agency is holding nine public listening sessions to solicit comments on an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) it will prepare for the program. The EIS must be completed before the agency issues a rule to enact the changes to the CRP Congress made in the 2008 Farm Bill. At the current pace, the farm bill changes will not be made until 2011, the year before the current farm bill expires. Unfortunately, upon further review, we have now discovered the EIS may now include a review of the CRP transition option, a congressional initiative to try to put land that is leaving the CRP upon contract expiration into the hands of beginning farmers and minority farmers, including those who want to transition to organic production systems. Placing land that has leaving the program into an environmental review of land in the program seems contradictory. With up to 7 million acres of CRP land possibly leaving the program in 2009 and 2010, the lack of a rule to implement the transition option would be an enormous lost opportunity. Hopefully the Obama Administration will respond quickly and get the transition option moving in time for this year's contract expirations. The nine public CRP meetings being held this fall are in Spokane, WA (9/15), Great Falls, MT (9/21), Moorhead, MN (9/21), Manhattan, KS (9/23), Springfield, IL (9/25), Oklahoma City, OK (9/29), Clovis, NM (10/1), Albany, GA (10/6), and Harrisburg, PA (10/8). Times, locations and contact information for each of these sessions are available here.