By Anna Johnson
This week, the American Prairie Conservation Act was introduced by Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Reps. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Tim Walz (D-MN).
This bill strengthens the protections for native prairies and prime grasslands that were established in previous farm bills. It expands the existing “sodsaver” provision from six states (Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) to the entire U.S.
On average, the government covers about 60 percent of farmers’ crop insurance premium costs. The sodsaver provisions provide a disincentive for farmers to plow up native sod by reducing the amount of crop insurance subsidies available when they plow these lands.
Expanding these provisions nationwide would not only protect fragile lands, it would ensure that crop insurance subsidies are available consistently for farmers in all 50 states.
If passed, these proposals could save $52 million over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
In addition, if a farmer plows native sod and plants a noninsured crop such as alfalfa, they can avoid sodsaver restrictions. This bill proposes to close that loophole.
Stewardship of our land and water is an invaluable legacy. By expanding the sodsaver rules nationwide, this bill will help protect our natural resources, keep land in production, and support farms and rural communities.
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