The Feds passed the buck on the Sodsaver program. Senator Thune had hoped Sodsaver would give nationwide protection to grasslands by prohibiting crop insurance coverage for native grasslands that farmers plow into production. Unfortunately, the farm bill conference committee limited Sodsaver only to the Prairie Pothole National Priority Area. That's us, but that also includes only 5% of the remaining native grasslands in the U.S. Congress also wimped out and left participation in the program to the discretion of the governors or the affected areas.
Now Governor Rounds and his colleagues in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana have to decide whether they should impose on their farmers a restriction that competing farmers elsewhere with craftier Senators will not face. I understand why Governor Rounds might lean against signing on to Sodsaver (especially when he's speaking to the South Dakota Corn Growers, who are urging members to send this form letter to the Governor to protect their land rights.
I would note that, flawed as it is in its limited geographical scope, Sodsaver is not taking away land rights. Sodsaver simply declines to subsidize with federal crop insurance dollars those landowners who use their rights to tear up native sod.
Perhaps Governor Rounds needs the same reminder that Dan Bohl offered Linda Hilde last week: sometimes there are better uses for land than making money. Even limited just to our Prairie Pothole region, Sodsaver will protect important habitat for ducks and songbirds, preserve environmental buffers for wetlands, and provide greater economic diversity and stability than we would get panting everything between the Missouri and the Mississippi to corn (see Ducks Unlimited for a fuller explanation).
Sodsaver isn't perfect, but it's still the right thing to do. Governor Rounds, give it your support.
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