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Title: Grassland and managed grazing policy review
Perennial grasslands, including prairie and pasture, have declined with tremendous environmental and social costs. This decline reflects unequal policy support for grasslands and managed grazing compared to row crops. To create a resource for community partners and decision-makers, we reviewed and analyzed the policy tools and implementation capacity that supports and constrains grasslands and managed grazing in the U.S. Upper Midwest. Risk reduction subsidies for corn and soybeans far outpace the support for pasture. Some states lost their statewide grazing specialist when the federal Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative lapsed. The United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service support for lands with prescribed grazing practices declined after 2005 but remained relatively steady 2010–2020. These results reveal the policy disadvantage for grasslands and managed grazing in comparison with row crop agriculture for milk and meat production. Grassland and grazing policies have an important nexus with water quality, biodiversity, carbon and outdoor recreation policy. Socially just transitions to well-managed, grazed grasslands require equity-oriented interventions that support community needs. We synthesized recommendations for national and state policy that farmers and other grazing professionals assert would support perennial grasslands and grazing, including changes in insurance, conservation programs, supply chains, land access, and fair labor. These policies would provide critical support for grass-based agriculture and prairies that we hope will help build soil, retain nutrients, reduce flooding and enhance biodiversity while providing healthy food, jobs, and communities.  more » « less
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Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems
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Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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