Corn and soy fields are rapidly swallowing up grassland in the western corn belt.
In a post last year, I argued that to get ready for climate change, we should push Midwestern farmers to switch a chunk of their corn land into pasture for cows. The idea came from a paper by University of Tennessee and Bard College researchers, who calculated that such a move could suck up massive amounts of carbon in soil—enough to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 36 percent. (Read more…) In addition to the CO2 reductions, you’d also get a bunch of high-quality, grass-fed beef (which has a significantly healthier fat profile than the corn-finished stuff).
Turns out, farmers in the Midwest are doing just the opposite. Inspired by high crop prices driven up by the federal corn-ethanol program—as well as by federally subsidized crop insurance that mitigates their risk—farmers are expanding the vast carpet of corn and soy that covers the Midwest rather than retracting it. That’s the message of a new paper (PDF) by South Dakota State University researchers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
[VIA MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones]