|Protect Our Prairies Act introduced in U.S. House|
|Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff|
|Saturday, 09 March 2013 08:15|
WASHINGTON - On Feb. 14, Representatives Kristi Noem, R-SD, and Tim Walz, D-MN, along with six additional cosponsors - including Rep. Latta, R-Bowling Green - introduced bipartisan legislation that would protect our nation's remaining native prairies and prime grasslands.
The Protect Our Prairies Act creates a nationwide "Sodsaver" provision that will ensure that taxpayer dollars do not continue to subsidize the destruction of native grass and prairie lands.
If passed, the Protect Our Prairies Act would conserve native grasslands by reducing crop insurance for the first four years on newly broken native sod or grasslands.
The Protect Our Prairies Act will reduces federal subsidies for crop and revenue insurance by 50 percentage points on those acres.
The bill also includes two important provisions that prevent gaming of the system to increase revenue insurance coverage at the expense of taxpayers and the environment. One keeps a producer's newly broken sod isolated from other crop acres when calculating insurable yields. The other requires the operator to take a percentage of the county average yield until being able to show a multi-year yield history.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill could save taxpayers nearly $200 million over 10 years.
"Ducks Unlimited applauds this common sense legislation that will save taxpayers money and slow the rapid loss of our native grasslands," DU CEO Dale Hall said. The act "essentially makes crop insurance payouts proportional to the productivity of the land."
"This is common sense legislation that protects critical wildlife habitat while safeguarding farmers' flexibility to make land management decisions," said Latta.
Representatives Noem and Walz first introduced the Protect Our Prairies Act in 2012, with the aim of having the language included in the House version of the farm bill.
However, last year's House Agriculture Committee-passed farm bill included a much weaker provision limited to the Prairie Pothole Region of the U.S.
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