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

By United States Government Accountability Office

The nation's last grassland has a number of very important advantages, similar to supplying land for grazing and flora and fauna habitat for plenty of at-risk species. even though, over the last three centuries approximately 1/2 the grassland has been switched over to different makes use of, mostly cropland. as well as wasting very important grassland values, such conversions may end up in elevated spending on federal farm courses, reminiscent of crop coverage, particularly in marginal parts. This publication examines: the level of grassland conversions to cropland and the price of farm software funds for those newly switched over cropland acres; the relative significance of farm software funds as opposed to different components in manufacturers' judgements to transform grassland to cropland; and, any effect 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 version.

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Our analysis of RMA’s crop insurance data indicates that conversions of grassland with no cropping history added disproportionately to government costs for crop insurance in South Dakota. Table 3 shows the net crop insurance payments received by producers in the 16 South Dakota counties with the highest rates of conversions in 2005 and 2006 in comparison with the net payments received by producers in the state’s other counties. 66 per acre net payment received in South Dakota’s remaining 50 counties.

15] Available Data Show Conversion of Native Grassland… 23 Table 3. 11 7 selected historically cropped countiesb State totals Crop years 1997 to 2006 Total Per acre Source: GAO’s analysis of RMA’s data. Note: Net crop insurance payments are the indemnity payments that producers received less the premiums and administrative fees that producers pay. We did not include government costs resulting from (1) payments to insurance companies for underwriting gains and administrative and overhead expenses and (2) the cost of RMA operating expenses in this analysis because countylevel data on these costs were not available.

16] Table 4 shows the crop disaster assistance payments received by producers in the 16 South Dakota counties with the highest conversion rates in comparison with the payments received by producers in other South Dakota counties. From 1998 to 2004, crop disaster assistance payments in the 16 highest conversion counties totaled more than $195 million (40 percent of the state total), compared with approximately $292 million for the other 50 South Dakota counties, including about $16 million in 7 historically cropped counties in southeast South Dakota.

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