Agricultural Conservation: Converting Grassland to Cropland by United States Government Accountability Office

By United States Government Accountability Office

The nation's final grassland has a number of very important advantages, corresponding to delivering land for grazing and natural world habitat for lots of at-risk species. although, during the last three centuries approximately half the grassland has been switched over to different makes use of, mostly cropland. as well as wasting vital grassland values, such conversions may end up in elevated spending on federal farm courses, akin to crop coverage, specially in marginal components. This booklet examines: the level of grassland conversions to cropland and the price of farm application funds for those newly switched over cropland acres; the relative value of farm application funds as opposed to different components in manufacturers' judgements to transform grassland to cropland; and, any impression the Sodbuster conservation provision - which locations soil erosion criteria on yes switched over land - has had on proscribing grassland conversions. This ebook is an excerpted and edited variation.

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Extra info for Agricultural Conservation: Converting Grassland to Cropland

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S. [2] In addition, we analyzed data gathered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) state and county offices in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota on acres converted from grassland with no cropping history to cropland for 2005 and 2006. S. [5] We interviewed USDA officials from the Economic Research Service (ERS), FSA, NASS, NRCS, and the Risk Management Agency (RMA). We also interviewed FWS state officials in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas; state government officials; and officials at land grant universities, including Iowa State University, Kansas State University, North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University, and Texas A and M University.

17] The crop insurance program has high premium subsidies to encourage participation. Premium subsidies are calculated as a percentage of the total premium and can be as high as 67 percent. The subsidies shield producers from the full cost of growing crops in these areas. Because Available Data Show Conversion of Native Grassland… 25 premiums are higher in areas that are prone to frequent or severe crop losses than in the major crop-producing counties, premium subsidies have the effect of causing crop insurance costs to be higher in these areas.

These changes in price and production make these years illustrative for analysis of the effect farm program payments can have on farm enterprises. We found that for certain years, high crop prices as well as farm program payments would provide economic incentives for a producer to convert native grassland used for grazing in a cow-calf operation to an alternative cropping operation. In 3 of the 5 years, the conversion from grazing to cropping would have resulted in increased income. In the other 2 years, 2004 and 2005, when cattle prices and returns were high relative to crop prices and returns and total farm program payments were lower, it would have been more profitable not to convert and continue the cow-calf operation.

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