Ag Policy Blog

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Targets Conservation in Prairie Pothole Region

By Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is partnering with conservation groups to highlight problems with grassland conversions to crop production in the Prairie Pothole Region.

The Fish and Wildlife Service announced the "Prairies Conservation Campaign" on Monday to note that grasslands and wetlands are being converted to crop production in the upper Plains states at levels not seen since the 1920s or 1930s.

The Prairie Pothole Region stretches from north-central Iowa up through parts of western Minnesota, eastern South Dakota and the eastern half of North Dakota on up through parts of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notes that the acres in the pothole wetlands provide critical wildlife habitat for migrating waterfowl and songbirds.

“More than 50 percent of North American migratory waterfowl depend upon the mix of wetlands and grasslands found in the prairie pothole region,” said Noreen Walsh, Regional Director for the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “This area is called America’s ‘duck factory’ because it is the most productive area for nesting waterfowl on the continent, perhaps the world. These prairies and all the wildlife that they support are currently stressed by many factors acting together to threaten our natural heritage. By joining together as stewards, we can shed light on this problem and find solutions.”

The campaign will seek to work with landowners on conservation solutions to keep the wetlands and prairies from conversion to crops.

More information can be found at…

USDA Loan Information Available

USDA on Monday announced some changes from 2014 Farm Bill for the Farm Service Agency's loan programs.

According to USDA, the legislation expands some loan opportunities for farmers and ranchers that include:

Eliminating term limits for guaranteed operating loans.

Modifying the definition of a beginning farmer based on average farm size in the county rather than median farm size.

Offering a 2% lower interest rate on the Joint Financing Direct Farm Ownership interest rate with a floor of 2.5%, which is half the rate available previously.

Boosted the maximum loan amount for Direct Farm Ownership down payments from $225,000 to $300,000.

Allowing urban youth to apply for Youth Loans and changing the terms of debt forgiveness on those loans.

Increase the guarantees on conservation loans, which special boosts for socially disadvantaged producers and beginning farmers.

Lifting the loan limits so microloans are not counted for veterans or beginning farmers.

More information is available at

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


To comment, please Log In or Join our Community .

Unknown 3/27/2014 | 8:24 AM CDT
They're targeting seizing your land rights, not conservation. So then they can manage your land like they manage the country. Roads in disrepair, bridges you can't cross, debt our kids can't pay for.
Roger Neshem 3/25/2014 | 9:31 AM CDT
Have an out of state landlord. She got a letter on this on a piece of ground that has NO wetlands offering easement. In their prospectus letter they list all the falsehoods about their easements ect. Its all a giant crock of you know what! The NAZIS were more lenient in their policies than the Fish and Wildlife guys. These guys are slimier than the wetland creatures they try to protect. Told my NRCS guy about the letter to out of state landlord and he said I was the 4th person to tell him such a tale of out of state people being offered a whopping 400-500 an acre for easements. These guys are crooks and also why are we writing checks for wetlands in pastures and such when we as a country are broke???????

Pathetic our government funds this crap.
Unknown 3/25/2014 | 8:05 AM CDT
In South Dakota alone there are RECORD WATERFOWL NUMBERS!!! In 2012 these numbers were 2-5 times that of normal! These kind of tactics to control private property rights are out of control. They have no plan to work with landowners, their only plan is to take control of your land without proper compensation. If these species are not threatened they should not be taking such drastic measures. They haven't limited licenses, or cut down on limits. Public land ends were private land begins!
Bonnie Dukowitz 3/25/2014 | 5:54 AM CDT
Please add some information concerning diving ducks. I've read, the issue with them is what boils down to, sport fishing. Stocking shallow water bodies with minnows and then aerating for bait fish destroys the food supply for diving ducks. There is always more to the story than those greedy farmers, we just do not hear about it.