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Farm Payments Play a Role in Converting Grasslands to Cropland

A Government Accountability Office report shows farm program payments are a factor in landowner's decision to convert native grassland to crops.

Higher prices, genetically modified crops and new farming techniques all play a role in the decision to convert grassland to crops, but according to a GAO report farm program payments and crop insurance are a major incentive to convert native grasslands to cropland.

The average annual net crop insurance payment per acre for the 16 counties in South Dakota with the highest rates of conversion between 1997 and 2003 was nearly twice as high as the average payment for all other counties in the state.

The GAO recommends that USDA obtain more comprehensive information on grassland to cropland conversions and also look at how farm program payments and conservation programs may be contradicting each other and report the findings to the Congress.

To read the complete report "Farm Program Payments Are an Important Factor in Landowners' Decisions to Convert Grassland to Cropland," click HERE.

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