Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are set to introduce a bill today that would expand nationwide a crop insurance incentive aimed at preventing farmers from converting grasslands to cropland.
The American Prairie Conservation Act would extend the sodsaver program that was first included in the 2008 farm bill from farmers in six Midwenstern states to farmers across the country. If implemented, it could save more than $50 million over 10 years, according to a statement from the lawmakers. The program doesn't bar farmers from converting grassland, but it does reduce the crop insurance premium subsidy for farmers who do so.
"By closing loopholes and applying these more effective sodsaver provisions nationwide, we can save taxpayers money, eliminate an unintended crop insurance incentive to break native sod, and protect America's diminishing prairie grasslands that are so important to our grazing livestock producers," Thune said in the statement. "Not only is this an example of a good-government solution, but the savings achieved by our bill could be used elsewhere in an already cash-strapped farm bill."
Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.) will introduce a companion bill today in the House.