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Old 02-20-2013, 07:55 PM  
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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Biofuels are wiping out the Midwest's grasslands.

Short term economic gain for some people, long-term pain for everybody else?

Sounds about right.

I'd love to hear some input on this stuff from the people most affected, in Nebraska or Iowa.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...the-dust-bowl/

Biofuel rush wiping out America’s grasslands at fastest pace since the 1930s
Posted by Brad Plumer
on February 20, 2013 at 10:00 am

America’s prairies are shrinking. Spurred on by the rush for biofuels, farmers are digging up grasslands in the northern Plains to plant crops at the quickest pace since the 1930s. While that’s been a boon for farmers, the upheaval could create unexpected problems.

A new study by Christopher Wright and Michael Wimberly of South Dakota State University finds that U.S. farmers converted more than 1.3 million acres of grassland into corn and soybean fields between 2006 and 2011, driven by high crop prices and biofuel mandates (right). In states like Iowa and South Dakota, some 5 percent of pasture is turning into cropland each year.

It’s a big transformation in the heart of the country: The authors conclude that the rates of grassland loss are “comparable to deforestation rates in Brazil, Malaysia, and Indonesia.” And those changes are already having plenty of impacts.

For one, farmers are now growing crops on increasingly marginal land. In Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, corn and soy are planted in areas that are especially vulnerable to drought. But farmers take the risk because corn and soy have become so lucrative — and, in part, because the federal government offers subsidized crop insurance in case of failure. (The study also finds evidence that many farmers are no longer enticed by federal conservation programs that pay for grassland cover.)

The loss of pasture itself could also have big environmental impacts. Studies have found that grasslands hold carbon in their soil better than cropland does. So there’s a climate-change angle here. A 2008 paper in Science argued that fuels like corn ethanol and soy biodiesel lose a portion of their carbon advantage over gasoline if farmers are simply digging up virgin grassland to grow the crops.

There’s a wildlife angle, too: The Prairie Pothole Region, traversing Minnesota and the Dakotas, is one of the continent’s key breeding grounds for ducks and other ground-nesting birds. Tall grasses in the area help sustain a number of species and shield birds from predators. But corn fields are now encroaching on the habitat, and bird populations are dropping.

In recent years, some environmental groups have argued that it doesn’t make sense for the federal government to keep subsidizing this push into the prairies. A recent report (pdf) from the Environmental Working Group, for instance, argues that Congress should scale back crop insurance for farmers who move into the country’s grasslands and wetlands. Farm groups, for their part, say the insurance is vital for their work — instead, Congress should expand conservation programs.

And what about biofuels? Groups like EWG have criticized ethanol mandates for pushing up corn and soybean prices and driving the crop boom. There’s a lot more hope for next-generation cellulosic biofuels grown from switchgrass or other plants with a much smaller environmental footprint. Or biodiesel made from algae, say. But until those become viable, the crop rush continues.
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:58 PM   #16
RaiderH8r RaiderH8r is offline
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The nation's worst ecological disaster was not wrought by a fossil fuel, a spill or chemical discharge. It was the land rush that plowed under millions of acres of America's grasslands and led to the dust bowl. If the fuel can't compete without subsidies then **** it.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:15 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HonestChieffan View Post
Crp was planted to grasss.

There are no efforts to maintain pasture. Only crop land has government programs.

Many acres converted from grass were old fescue or brome not native prairie

Government should stay the hell out of this. Thee is no need for government to be involved
There are efforts to maintain pasture. Just got a check to pay for a crew to come out and plow up and burn volunteer trees.

Is there anything you're ever right about? No matter what the subject, you're full of shit time and time again.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:21 PM   #18
HonestChieffan HonestChieffan is online now
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There are efforts to maintain pasture. Just got a check to pay for a crew to come out and plow up and burn volunteer trees.

Is there anything you're ever right about? No matter what the subject, you're full of shit time and time again.
What was the program? Lets see where the money comes from and what are the restrictions. Put up or shut up.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:34 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by HonestChieffan View Post
What was the program? Lets see where the money comes from and what are the restrictions. Put up or shut up.
I'll go to my office tomorrow and see exactly where it came from and exactly what it is. I'm telling you this IS a government program and they are paying at least half of my costs of invasive tree removal. It's a fact. You are wrong and you will have to admit you are wrong.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:48 PM   #20
DementedLogic DementedLogic is offline
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It would be awesome if we got rid of all of the corn subsidies and sugar tariffs.
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Old 02-21-2013, 03:34 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by mlyonsd View Post
5 years ago I counted 87 pheasants in my yard on a cold winter day.

Now I hear coyotes more often then cackling roosters.
That is because the super responsible cow that was defending the animals from the coyotes died because of the irresponsibility of his son. It was a tragic death by coyote attack while the song "won't back down" was playing nearby.
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:00 AM   #22
redsurfer11 redsurfer11 is offline
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Originally Posted by mlyonsd View Post
5 years ago I counted 87 pheasants in my yard on a cold winter day.

Now I hear coyotes more often then cackling roosters.

You should get a few Roadrunners. Rumor has it they destroy coyotes
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:29 AM   #23
theelusiveeightrop theelusiveeightrop is offline
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Why we can't figure out the solar and wind thing is beyond me.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:32 AM   #24
BucEyedPea BucEyedPea is offline
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Why, I certainly am not surprised since I posted some years ago, here, that this would happen. Another govt induced problem.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:33 AM   #25
BucEyedPea BucEyedPea is offline
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It would be awesome if we got rid of all of the corn subsidies and sugar tariffs.
Yup!
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:49 AM   #26
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Why we can't figure out the solar and wind thing is beyond me.
Until something comes along more efficient than photovoltaic cells solar is stuck where it is.
Wind is expensive to build makes for inconsistent output.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:12 PM   #27
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We shouldn't be using corn as a biofuel anyway. ****ing morons
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Old 02-21-2013, 03:22 PM   #28
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I guess you have to decide what you want.

Land owners and farmers see crop prices where they are, have tillable land out of production that can generate pretty nice income. They have marginal land that if farmed 3 years can qualify for other programs.

People don't like CRP payments for marginal land because it's "welfare" and they don't like that land being used for other production.

You don't want corn to be in the food system, but you don't want to use it as fuel....decide which way you want it.

I guess you need to pick your poison.

As someone who is invested and taking an ass kicking in BioD....it's not going to work.
Corn alcohol isn't as efficient as it could be.

It seems the only answer I can see that keeps grasslands, provides production and produces fuel supplements is biofuels made of cellulose and supported crops like switch grass. They have significant flaws, mostly from the delivery to plant costs of transportation and the volume of cellulose it takes to produce the fuels.

It's absolutely true that too much land is coming into production....but you cannot blame a land owner for using their available ground to generate the money it will right now. Even if they clear the ground, farm it a year or two and sell as tillable....it's worth it financially for the land owner.

Wind and other energy sources are an entirely different subject and I've got input on that too.
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Old 02-21-2013, 03:24 PM   #29
Iowanian Iowanian is offline
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I have to admit, I grew up on a farm, have worked on farms and own a farm and I didn't know about that program. I'd be interested to at least know what it is.


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I'll go to my office tomorrow and see exactly where it came from and exactly what it is. I'm telling you this IS a government program and they are paying at least half of my costs of invasive tree removal. It's a fact. You are wrong and you will have to admit you are wrong.
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:21 PM   #30
Brock Brock is offline
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I have to admit, I grew up on a farm, have worked on farms and own a farm and I didn't know about that program. I'd be interested to at least know what it is.
Didn't go to work today, but I now remember that it was through the USDA NRCS program. The paperwork came from my county ASC office, but there was a federal employee working there processing all of this stuff. I had two 80 acre pastures that were filling up with cedars, and now, with about 3000 dollars out of pocket expense, they are now pristine pastures (aside from the mountains of cedar trees that have to be burned). They also told me that there was money available for grass seeding and water (pond) construction.

The only restriction I can remember is that there is a limit on the number of cattle per acre, which wasn't unreasonable. It must be a big deal around here, because a bunch of pasture clearing companies have popped up in the last year or so.
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