North Dakota's net loss of about 650,000 Conservation Reserve Program acres heads an all-star list of states with significant net losses of federal set-aside lands, following the latest program sign-up offered by the USDA.
Next is Montana, with 435,335 net acres lost, followed by Minnesota, with a net loss of 190,231 acres.
Minnesota lost about 66 percent of all CRP acres whose contracts expired.
The bailout from the nation's top wildlife and soil conservation program was also in high gear in South Dakota, where 169,284 program acres were lost.
High crop prices, corn particularly, are causing farmers to leave conservation programs and put their lands under the plow instead.
Grasslands throughout the Dakotas are also falling victim to high commodity prices, as new, genetically modified corn strains are now able to be planted in areas of little rainfall.
To see a spreadsheet showing details of the latest CRP signup, including number of acres offered and accepted, and net losses, state by state, click here.
Dennis Anderson has been a Star Tribune outdoors columnist since 1993, before which, for 13 years, he held the same position at the Pioneer Press. He enjoys casting and shooting. Dogs, too, and horses. Also kids and, occasionally, crusading in his column for improved conservation.
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