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Groups Note Key Farm Bill Provision

Concern over loss of natural areas to farmland - the return of sodbusting - could be addressed in the new bill.

Published on: Sep 27, 2013

While Congress whiles away the hours listening to Sen. Cruz talk Obamacare; talk about the farm bill continues in the background. This week e Center for Rural Affairs issued an analysis of 2012 data that shows there's a need for a Sodsaver provision in the new farm bill. The group - long a supporter of maintaining native land - shows that crop insurance support is pushing conversion of land into production because of the reduced risk.

Traci Bruckner, assistant director of rural policy, Center for Rural Affairs, says: "This data shows grassland and other newly broken land converted to cropland in 2012 totals nearly 400,000 acres."

He notes that the study shows Nebraska leads the way with 54,000 acres of new land turned into cropland.

STAYING NATIVE: Groups push for Sodsaver provisions in the new farm bill.
STAYING NATIVE: Groups push for Sodsaver provisions in the new farm bill.

Bruckner says the Senate version of the farm bill includes a national Sodsave provision. The House version also has a provision but it's limited in scope, targeting five states in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Northern Great Plains.

Interestingly, Bruckner notes that the five top sodbusting states - Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Florida and Iowa - only two have a small part of land in the pothole region. In essence the House version misses the states with the most natural land put back into production, which he says will provide inadequate protection for native grassland. The table on this page shows highest states for putting land into production and whether the House or Senate bill would have prevented the move. Note there are key links at the end of the table to check out too.

State

Reason for Conversion

Acres

Prairie Pothole Region

State Included in House Sodsaver

State Included in Senate Sodsaver

Nebraska

New land broken out

54,876

No

No

Yes

South Dakota

New land broken out

27,128

Portion of the state

Portion of the state

Yes

Texas

New land broken out

26,395

No

No

Yes

Florida

New land broken out

24,961

No

No

Yes

Iowa

New land broken out

22,301

Portion of the state

Portion of the state

Yes

Kansas

New land broken out

20,931

Portion of the state

Portion of the state

Yes

California

New land broken out

16,384

No

No

Yes

Georgia

New land broken out

15,440

No

No

Yes

Indiana

New land broken out

14,681

No

No

Yes

Minnesota

New land broken out

12,453

Portion of the state

Portion of the state

Yes

Check out these links to get a better idea of how your state or county is doing in the Sodsaver debate:

Conversion by State: http://files.cfra.org/pdf/noncropland-cropland-state.pdf

Conversion by County: http://files.cfra.org/pdf/noncropland-cropland-county.pdf

Conversion Map: http://files.cfra.org/cropland-conversion-map.JPG