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Farm bill important to the prairies

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  • photo by Michael Furtman
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More than 90 percent of the Prairie Pothole Region is privately owned. Thus, DU and our partners work closely with farmers, ranchers and other private landowners across the region to promote working lands and achieve our conservation mission. 

With a simple stroke of a pen, federal, state and provincial governments can enact laws that greatly impact the future of critical habitat, waterfowl and wildlife populations and our cherished hunting traditions. For example, the farm bill represents the single largest private-lands conservation program in the United States and provides vital funding for important waterfowl-friendly programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and wetland easement program. Farm bill programs also provide important incentives to landowners to preserve wetlands and grasslands, reduce soil erosion and provide clean water.

Continental waterfowl populations and the key landscapes they depend on throughout their annual life cycle will be greatly impacted—either positively or negatively—by the outcomes of public policy decisions. It’s important for DU’s supporters to stay educated and engaged on these mission-critical issues in order to sustain healthy waterfowl populations now and into the future.  

Regional Statistics

  • More than 1.3 million acres of grasslands were converted to cropland during 2006-2011 in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska. This rapid rate of loss has not been seen since the 1920s and '30s. (Wright and Wimberly 2013) 
  • At current conversion rates, more than half of the native prairie remaining in the Prairie Pothole Region will be gone in the next 34 years. (Stephens' 2008)
  • Acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program are down 1.6 million across the Prairie Pothole Region state of North Dakota from the state’s highest amount in 2007.
  • The Conservation Reserve Program was responsible for 25.7 million additional ducks produced in the U.S. Prairie Pothole Region during 1992-2003. (Reynolds et al. 2006)
  • The Wetlands Reserve Program has helped restore more than 2.4 million acres of wetlands and associated habitats providing important wildlife and ecosystem service benefits since 1992.
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