** As Prices Rise, Farmers Spurn Conservation Program**
Out on the farm, the ducks and pheasants are losing ground.
Thousands of farmers are taking their fields out of the government’s biggest conservation program, which pays them not to cultivate. They are spurning guaranteed annual payments for a chance to cash in on the boom in wheat, soybeans, corn and other crops. Last fall, they took back as many acres as are in Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
Environmental and hunting groups are warning that years of progress could soon be lost, particularly with the native prairie in the Upper Midwest. But a broad coalition of baking, poultry, snack food, ethanol and livestock groups say bigger harvests are a more important priority than habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife. They want the government to ease restrictions on the preserved land, which would encourage many more farmers to think beyond conservation.
Kerry Dockter, a rancher in Denhoff, N.D., has about 450 acres of grassland in the program. “When this program first came about, it was a pretty good thing,” he said. “But times have definitely changed.”
If our farmers are plowing moving onto formerly protected land you can bet that in poorer countries they are plowing under rain forest and wetlands which with even worse long-term damage.
Starving the poor world wide by using crops for ethanol and biodiesel to maintain our automotive lifestyle is a sin.