Published since 1946
Bipartisan Prairie Conservation Act Introduced
A bipartisan group of Midwestern Senators and Representatives have introduced the American Prairie Conservation Act in the U.S. Senate (S. 1913) and the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 3939). Sponsored by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Tim Walz (D-MN), the legislation is intended to create disincentives to farmers that convert native sod to cropland by closing a crop insurance yield substitution loophole. The sodsaver provision language does not prevent farmers from converting native sod, but those who choose to breakup native sod for cropland would face a reduction in crop insurance premium subsidy assistance and a reduction in guaranteed yields of insured crops. A loophole in the existing sodsaver statute allows producers to plant non-insurable crops on newly converted sod for four consecutive years and then convert those acres to insurable crops without a reduction in crop insurance assistance. The new legislation would require four cumulative years of crop insurance reductions before crops are no longer subject to sodsaver provisions. Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) are cosponsors of the legislation.
“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,” said Senator Thune. “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.”
“The sodsaver provision we implemented in six Midwestern states as part of the 2014 Farm Bill has successfully reduced the conversion of native sod, saved taxpayer dollars, and encouraged wildlife habitat,” said Senator Klobuchar. “Our bipartisan legislation would extend this small, commonsense change to the crop insurance program and boost conservation efforts and savings nationwide.”