WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today introduced the American Prairie Conservation Act. This bipartisan legislation would disincentivize the conversion of native sod to cropland by closing a crop insurance yield substitution loophole in all 50 states. Sodsaver, which has been implemented in South Dakota, Minnesota, and other prairie pothole states, is a cost-saving initiative that reduces incentives without preventing farmers from converting native sod to cropland. Farmers who choose to break up native sod and convert it to cropland face a reduction in crop insurance premium subsidy assistance and a reduction in guaranteed yields of insured crops.
“Sodsaver has played a critical role in preserving grasslands in prairie pothole states,” said Thune. “By applying sodsaver nationwide, taxpayers would save money, and America’s diminishing prairie grasslands would be protected, which is critical for livestock producers who rely on grazing. This is a good-government, cost-saving solution that must be considered as we continue to work on what’s expected to be a cash-strapped farm bill.”
“The sodsaver provisions we implemented in previous Farm Bills have successfully reduced the conversion of native sod, supported outdoor recreation, saved taxpayer dollars, and preserved wildlife habitat,” said Klobuchar. “Our bipartisan legislation would extend this commonsense change to the crop insurance program in order to boost conservation efforts and savings nationwide.”
The American Prairie Conservation Act would:
- Apply sodsaver’s prohibition to substitute crop insurance yields on native sod that is converted to cropland nationwide;
- Make crop insurance assistance more reflective of production capabilities on all native sod that is converted to cropland nationwide; and
- Require producers who convert native sod to cropland to certify to the Farm Service Agency the number and location of acres of native sod that are converted in an existing automated crop certification system so the converted acres would be accurately tracked.
Thune has authored sodsaver provisions in the 2008, 2014, and 2018 farm bills.