Farmers Aim to Plow Over Conserved Land

Wetlands, grassland now needed for corn
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2008 4:40 AM CDT
Farmers Aim to Plow Over Conserved Land
Ernie Roehrich stands on his farm near Linton, N.D. Roehrich's land has been enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program for two decades, but lured by high commodity prices, he opted out of the program and faces a penalty for exiting early.    (AP Photo/James MacPherson)

(Newser) – 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. (Read more Department of Agriculture stories.)

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