It’s not often we start a Monday with a compliment, but lo and behold, South Dakota’s agro-industrialists aren’t entirely hell-bent on laying waste to our eco-friendly escarpes. Show them a bit of that good old governmental intervention, a dash of green and a dollop of socialism, and they’ll make us fourth in the nation in withdrawing environmentally delicate land from mass production. Now isn’t that a kick in the prairie grass?
Turns out, the Conservation Reserve Program (or the charmingly acronymed CRP) has been doling out quite the greenbacks to our humble state. We’ve gleefully accepted a cool $129.5 million. Now, I know what you’re thinking – we’re only fourth? Yes, indeed. It seems that Iowa ($402.5 million), Illinois ($172.7 million), and Minnesota ($150.8 million) have beaten us to the environmentally-conscious punch.
But let’s not lose sight of the CRP’s good intentions. This program pays landowners to nurture and maintain grass, trees and other vegetation types on their acres. Alongside creating a welcoming bed and breakfast for the local wildlife, this also helps prevent soil erosion and filters any runoff before it rudely barges into our waterways.
And if that’s not enough to sway you, the program is also helping on the climate change front. Normal farming activities can release unwanted carbon from plants and soil into the atmosphere, where it gleefully wraps itself around the earth like a snug, heat-trapping blanket. But hey, not with CRP on guard! Regular plant covers, endorsed by CRP, act like stalwart soil superheroes, yanking that dastardly carbon dioxide from the air and incarcerating it back in the dirt where it belongs.
Now, the $129.5 million question – can we persuade the USDA, or perhaps the GOED, to toss some dollar bills towards a local oat-milk processing plant? That would certainly be a nod to water conservation and a middle finger to the greenhouse gas emissions from our beloved CAFOs.
A quick detour to the Noem-Arnold family’s Racota Valley Ranch. No, they didn’t receive any CRP payments in 2020 and 2021. Instead, they were happily counting their considerable $390,000 in conservation payments they took from 2000 through 2019, a mere 8% of their $4.8 million in farm subsidies from ’95 through 2021. Easy come, easy go, eh?
So, here’s to South Dakota, fourth-biggest recipient of CRP and making environmental strides one government intervention at a time. Who knew socialism could come wrapped in such a lovely shade of green?