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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 02-21-2013, 06:23 PM   #31
HonestChieffan HonestChieffan is offline
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Kansas or oklahoma?
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:56 PM   #32
HonestChieffan HonestChieffan is offline
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Agriculture is a great example of how government and programs get out of hand.

Water quality is a major issue and should be. We need quality water. I dont think anyone disagrees

In the west, salmon and trout drive many decisions. What does that have to do with ag? Ag includes timber as well as crops and grazing.

Siltation impacts spawning and the salmon people and truot people want to improve spawing habitat

That drives a need to create less siltation. Invasive species that create more siltation are things like star thistle or russian or spotted knapweed. All three invade forest as well as grazing lands

So there are programs to spray invasive species. But those are highly opposed by other groups who oppose pesticides. The time and money spent by BLM, Park Service, and forest service on the paperwork is mindboggeling

In the plains we have native grasslands as well as tame grass pastures. We want clean water for drinking and recreation. This a non ag need drives an ag program to create buffer strips that redduce siltation. Those buffer strips remove land from crop production and require native grasses. Is that a good investment of tax dollars? Who knows. But cleaner water is the result

The idea that great number of grassland acres will be converted to corn or soybeans is a bit off track. First, those acres are very marginal crop production potential and many are in areas that would require irrigation. The cost to convert dryland grass to irrigated crop is huge

Second is productive potential. You can have great pasture land that wont grow corn or beans at an economic level

Bottom line is that non ag demands often drive a political agenda or a special interest group desire. Lots lead to unintended consequences

As our beef herd continues to decline we have less need for grazing land and orher uses will evolve. When demand for beef grows, grass will be planted to support beef. Currently we are in a major contraction of cattle numbers. Grassland has a cost and owners have to cover that cost
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:58 PM   #33
Brock Brock is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HonestChieffan View Post
Kansas or oklahoma?
It doesn't matter.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:51 PM   #34
HonestChieffan HonestChieffan is offline
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Originally Posted by Brock View Post
It doesn't matter.
Ok you win.


That said it does matter. It matters because there are state and even county speific programs administered by NRCS that are very area specific. Some are even funded by state agencies like conservation departments

So if you need to feel a win baby you got it.

But for those here who read these threads its important to be specific and at least clear. If i overstated there are no programs I was wrong if there are some available to you. Those programs are not available everywhere. In my county we no longer have pind building programs for any purpose including livestock water or soul erosion. And no money to remove trees from a pasture. There are programs like WHIP that help offset cost of abandoning pasture and converting ro wildlife habitat that is part Mo Dept of Conservation and part federal but it can never be grazed or harvested for hay.

There are riparian area moneys to fence cattle out of riparian areas

So hang tough bud. You are righter than rain. And I am so wrong and will defer to your information in the future.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:07 PM   #35
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If it's so important to be specific and be clear, you wouldn't make statements such as "There are no efforts to maintain pasture. Only crop land has government programs." That is so obviously and transparently wrong. Anyone with any agricultural knowledge at all would recognize that as a silly, stupid thing to say.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:10 PM   #36
HonestChieffan HonestChieffan is offline
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If it's so important to be specific and be clear, you wouldn't make statements such as "There are no efforts to maintain pasture. Only crop land has government programs." That is so obviously and transparently wrong. Anyone with any agricultural knowledge at all would recognize that as a silly, stupid thing to say.
I agree. Henceforth i will refrain from saying such things. Bad on my part.
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Come home to Jesus Dave. Come home.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:29 PM   #37
ChiefsCountry ChiefsCountry is offline
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Well around here tillable farm land is going for $4000 an acre. Pasture land is anywhere from $1000 to $2000 an acre. My neighbors took 200 acres of prime row crop land and turned into pasture. Silly move on their part IMO. Crops are normally a better investment than cattle especially on good growing land.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:30 PM   #38
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One good thing about living in the state of Missouri is water. We have plenty of that.
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