CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — There is an uncanny coincidence that happened last week when I talked with philanthropist Howard Buffett last Wednesday.
Buffett will soon make his second trip to Ukraine this spring, and last Wednesday he expressed his concern that the USDA could be doing more to produce wheat on CRP-set-aside acreage.
“I think we made a huge mistake in this country by not immediately responding. You knew within two weeks of the war what was happening to agriculture,” Buffett said. “And we should have looked at, and you can’t take all 22, 23 million acres of CRP out, but you can put conditions on 15 or 18 million acres of that, and you have to say you have to no-till it, you have to grow wheat and we’ll guarantee you a price on the wheat, and you may have to put it back in CRP next year or the year following, but you can’t tear it up.”
“But I have taken CRP acreage before in my lifetime and easily gone to no-till. It’s the easiest thing there is to do. You just need the right equipment,” Buffet continued. “Our guys know how to do it. Farmers here know how to do it. I think we could have put, I didn’t study it closely, but we probably could have put 15 or 18 million acres of CRP into wheat and what a great thing for our farmers to be helping the rest of the world.”
“We are always talking abut how we feed the world and the truth is: we feed a portion of the world,” Buffett continued. “But what more important time is there in my history to step up to the plate and say we are going to produce more so that those people in the Ukraine can meet their food security, while those that are affected by the war in Ukraine can have better food security. What better mission in life is there for a farmer to feed people because of a war?”
The following day, the USDA announced it would allow wheat to be planted this fall on Conservation Reserve Acreage in its final year under contract. When I told Buffet about the change, his response was a hearty laugh.