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Farm Bureau multi-state land study shows little net change from grassland

Sioux Falls S.D. (KELO AM) - A new study of land use patterns across seven Midwestern states, including South Dakota, finds little net movement of habitat to crop land – even by crops covered under federal crop insurance.South Dakota Farm Bureau was one of seven state Farm Bureaus to commission the study, conducted by Decision Innovation Solutions of Urbandale, Iowa.  The purpose of the study was two-fold: to estimate the degree to which land use changes have occurred in these states, and to identify potential factors contributing to these land use changes.

“Land use is a complex topic, and to fairly assess what changes are happening and why, Farm Bureau wanted to make sure that we had completely thorough and accurate data,” stated Wayne Smith, Executive Director of the South Dakota Farm Bureau (SDFB).  “The study found that there is a shift from grassland to cropland, but it is not as large as some would have you believe, nor is it exclusively driven by federal crop insurance subsidies.”

The study found that during 2007-2012 across the seven-state region, an estimated net total of 8.5 million acres has shifted away from grassy habitat, representing just 3% of total land area in those states.  Even as economic returns from crop production have risen, large shifts of land from grassland and toward crops have not uniformly occurred throughout the study area.  In addition, the research does not support the notion that crop insurance subsidies alone are the dominant factor contributing to the loss of grassy habitat.