Inflated bids for land being enrolled in the Conservation Res­erve Program (CRP) are making it tough to find farmland to rent, several young Iowa farmers told Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week during a roundtable discussion at Iowa State University.

Nathan Anderson of Cherokee said 500 acres near his farm was recently enrolled in CRP at rates of $350 to $400 per acre. He said it’s impossible for young farmers to compete with those bids, which are based on higher commodity prices from prior years.

"In one scenario, a beginning farmer lost land he was renting, and now he’s working out of state in a factory in Omaha," said Anderson, who suggested adjusting CRP rental rates more frequently instead of locking them in for a 10-year period regardless of current market conditions.

Dane Titman of Boone County said a retiring farmer near him...