Millions of acres set aside as grasslands and wetlands could soon be plowed under if farmers and livestock producers have their way, reports the Washington Post. As food prices soar, the Department of Agriculture is under pressure to release acreage from the Conservation Reserve Program that pays farmers not to grow crops on some land. The program was intended to hold down production and boost prices, but a major beneficiary has been the environment.
Now, "we need more corn, that's all there is to it," said a spokesman for a pork producers association. But environmentalists say the conserved land was chosen because it's fragile and should continue to be protected. "We've invested a hell of a lot of money in getting cover on this land," said a consultant to the Environmental Defense Fund.