“Plowed Under” Report Documents Loss of Habitat and Grassland
Between 2008 and 2011, more than 23 million acres of grassland, shrub-land and wetlands were plowed under in order to plant commodity crops, according to a recently released report by the Environmental Working Group and Defenders of Wildlife. The plow down is in response to high crop prices and unlimited crop insurance, according to EWG, and signals a need for public policy such as payment limits on crop insurance premiums and requiring conservation practices.
The analysis uses U.S. Department of Agriculture satellite data to produce the most accurate estimate currently available of the rate of habitat conversion in the farm belt. It shows that more than 8.4 million acres were converted to plant corn, more than 5.6 million to raise soybeans and nearly 5.2 million to grow winter wheat. Most of the destroyed habitat was in states in the Great Plains and Upper Midwest.
The report contains maps showing grassland, shrub land and wetlands converted to crops including counties in Kansas. To view the report go to: http://static.ewg.org/pdf/plowed_under.pdf