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EWG, Defenders of Wildlife: Farmers planting more land

The Environmental Working Group and Defenders of Wildlife said in a study released today that farmers have broken up more than 23 million acres of grassland, shrub land and wetlands between 2008 and 2011 in order to plant commodity crops.

The analysis, titled “Plowed Under,” uses Agriculture Department satellite data to show that more than 8.4 million acres were converted to plant corn, more than 5.6 million to raise soybeans and nearly 5.2 million to grow winter wheat, the groups said.

Most of the conversions to cropland took place in the Great Plains and upper Midwest, West Texas and Oklahoma, the report says.

The losses were greatest in counties that received the largest amounts of crop insurance subsidies, the groups said, as they urged Congress to impose payment limits on crop insurance and require conservation compliance.