Environmental Working Group: Wetlands, Fragile Lands Plowed


Photo by born1945; Flickr

In a study released by the Environmental Working Group, an estimated 7.2 million acres of wetlands and fragile lands were converted to cropland in 4 years.

The advocacy group, using mapping and geospatial technologies, found in Iowa, only two counties, Taylor and Adair, saw between 2,500 and 5,000 acres of wetland and wetland buffers converted to cropland.

These findings are linked to Congress’s actions concerning a new farm bill:

“The data strongly suggest that over-subsidized crop insurance policies are greasing the wheels of conversion to row crops,” said Craig Cox, EWG’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “The government is picking up too much of the risk of plowing up and planting fragile land, all at a cost of billions of dollars to taxpayers and untold environmental degradation.”

To learn more about the study and the possible repercussions, follow this link.

Iowa Crop Losses Exceed $1 Billion in 2012


Photo by Billy Hathorn, Wikimedia.
Photo by Billy Hathorn, Wikimedia.

The drought and heat wave this year inflicted more than $1 billion worth of damage to Iowa corn and soybean crops, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA administers the federal crop insurance program which paid $933.6 million to Iowa farmers for loss claims on corn and $158.9 million for loss claims on soybeans in 2012.

The crop insurance program has been continued into 2013 as part of the Farm Bill Extension passed by Congress on Tuesday.

For more information, read the full article at the Des Moines Register.

Taxpayers will pay for drought


Photo by Crane Station, Flickr

The federally subsidized crop insurance program for corn and soybean farmers will pay out billions in taxpayer payments to farmers as a result of 2012 drought that has decimated the country this year.

In some cases farmers will actually make more money from crop insurance payments than they would have received from normal rainfall and normal crop yields.

Bruce Babcock, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University in Ames and the author of a 2011 report for the Environmental Working Group titled “The Revenue Insurance Boondoggle: A taxpayer-paid Windfall for Industry” believes that reforms are needed to this important safety-net program.

Read more from The Gazette, here.

Environmentalists link crop insurance to habitat loss


Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region, Flickr.

Environmental groups blame crop insurance for the loss wildlife habitat in Iowa and around the nation.

A report from the Environmental Working Group and Defenders of Wildlife attributes crop insurance to the increase in farming on marginally productive land. This causes the loss of wildlife habitats such as wetlands and grasslands.

A study by one of the authors of the report found that only Texas and South Dakota lost more habitat than Iowa over a three-year period.

Read more from The Gazette here.