Farm policies are dooming us to relive mistakes of the past.
The Aug. 7 article "Open land falling to plow" discussed in-depth how massive amounts (37,000 square miles) of marginal prairie and wetlands are being converted to cropland. This change is driven by high commodity prices and by a farm program that limits Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) funding and heavily subsidizes crop insurance that limits the farmer's production risks.
It would seem that Congress, in defining the farm program, has forgotten the admonition that those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. In the 1920s, high wheat prices and cheap land lead to the plowing of prairies and rangeland that normally wouldn't support farming.
When the drought and depression of the 1930s hit, this land was abandoned. The Great Plains became a massive dust bowl, with dust storms extending to the East Coast.
Congress has not only ignored dust-bowl history but is disregarding the accepted science of climate change predicting that rising global temperatures will produce drought in the Great Plains (like we have been recently experiencing). Congress should be supporting conservation reserve programs and addressing climate change.
It should not be subsidizing crop insurance for marginal lands.
GARY CARLSON, ALEXANDRIA, MINN.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.