DU Commends Congressional Leadership For Efforts To Protect Grassland
Department of Agriculture is urged to remove incentives that promote grassland conversion.
BISMARCK, N.D. – -(AmmoLand.com)- Ducks Unlimited commends House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairmen Collin Peterson and Tom Harkin for their leadership to remove incentives from farm policy that encourage destruction of native grasslands. DU says this is a positive step to ensure grass remains on the landscape not only for waterfowl but also for ranching and combating global climate change.
“Changes to the federal crop insurance programs that incentivize grassland conversion are overdue,” said Scott McLeod, DU government affairs representative on agriculture policy. “A prudent crop insurance program will not only help decrease the loss of native grassland, but also save tax payer money by not insuring lands where unwise cropping decisions are made.”
In a letter from Rep. Peterson and Sen. Harkin to Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack they noted that “native grassland loss is exacerbated by the crop insurance system.” They also urged that “federal crop insurance must not shield the producer from losses if the land is simply unsuited to crop production.”
The Chairmen encouraged Secretary Vilsack to eliminate unsound crop insurance policies that do not adequately reflect the risks of planting crops to newly broken land.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that over 502,000 acres of native grassland in the Dakotas and Montana were converted to crop from 2002 to 2007. A subsequent report from U.S. Government Accountability Office concluded that farm program payments significantly influenced landowners’ decisions to convert native grass to crop.
“The continued work of the two chairmen is a testament to the importance of native grasslands and the need to revise the federal crop insurance system to better reflect the risks associated with planting a crop on land without a cropping history,” McLeod said.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands − nature’s most productive ecosystem − and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.