For background, it is important to read this over at bigpictureagriculture:
The amount of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), at 27.1 million acres, is down by 26 percent, or 9.7 million acres in the past five years, to a 25 year low. [It puts the Chevrolet story below into perspective: GM is "buying" 6,000 acres for CRP.]
During this same time period, corn acreage has increased by 13 million acres.
Farmers are once again planting crops on marginal lands “fencerow to fencerow” to cash in on today’s high commodity prices. CRP payments haven’t risen to compete with crop returns, and the program itself is being whittled away by Congress.Again, the amount of land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), at 27.1 million acres, is down by 26 percent, or 9.7 million acres in the past five years, since the ethanol mandate, to a 25 year low.
North Dakota To Help Solve The Global Warming Problem
Update: what goes around, comes around. A writer suggests that a lot of this newly plowed farmland in North Dakota was grassland for ranchers until the government provided incentives to turn the farmland into ethanol-producing grain. And, thus another reason why I love to blog.
Original PostABC News is reporting:
Chevrolet has become the first corporate participant in a public-private initiative that pays farmers NOT to convert natural prairie to large-scale crop production, which would release gases that are warming the planet.
The automaker, a division of General Motors, said it has bought more than 39,000 metric tons of carbon credits from North Dakota ranchers in the prairie pothole region, a broad expanse of grasslands and wetlands reaching across the northern Great Plains and parts of Canada.
"The amount of carbon dioxide removed from our atmosphere by Chevrolet's purchase of carbon credits equals the amount that would be reduced by taking 5,000 cars off the road," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
Grasslands store huge volumes of carbon dioxide, one of the gases most responsible for climate change. Tilling the soil for agriculture releases the gases into the atmosphere. Preserving grasslands keeps carbon bottled up and preserves habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.
Near the end of the article:
Participating ranchers place their property in conservation easements that guarantee it will permanently remain grassland, although they can continue grazing livestock and growing hay, which can be planted without tilling the soil.
Chevrolet purchased its credits as part of a 2010 commitment to invest up to $40 million in carbon reduction programs with a goal of keeping 8 million metric tons out of the atmosphere, spokeswoman Sharon Basel said.
I would suggest that oil-millionaire-farmers in western North Dakota quit farming completely, turning their farmland back into natural plains. It's a win-win for everyone.The credits Chevy bought in North Dakota will preserve 5,000 to 6,000 acres of grasslands.
The farmers no longer complain about the roads, the dust, the oil companies. Oil companies could also buy carbon credits to offset their other sins. Even wind farms could co-exist with the natural plains. And eventually back to the buffalo commons interrupted with a few pumpers.
Readers may be able to help me on this, but I don't think this changes the reality of what has always occurred on the range, where the buffalo roam, and the antelope play all day. Instead of the US government (i.e, the US taxpayer) paying the ranchers not to farm land they wouldn't farm anyway (cattle are now selling for some of the highest prices on record, and ranchers -- by definition -- ranch, and don't farm), a private corporation is paying the ranchers not to farm land they wouldn't farm anyway.
One error in the above, I suppose. I suggested that GM was a private corporation. I believe the "GM" stands for "government motors."
Additional comments: when I first heard of Drs Deborah E and Frank J Popper, my knee-jerk reaction was to resist their proposal. What has happened over the past five years, particularly the ethanol mandate, makes me think the Poppers were more correct than I gave them credit for.