Earlier this year, Congresswoman Kristi Noem threw her support behind Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz's effort to expand the Sodsaver program. The Sodsaver provision of the current Farm Bill prohibits crop insurance for native grasslands that farmers plow into production, but it only applies in the Prairie Pothole National Priority Area, which includes East River South Dakota. That program was also made voluntary: states had to opt in, and none of the five governors affected, including then-Gov. M. Michael Rounds, did so, even though Sodsaver costs the states nothing and saves the feds money.
The Walz amendment would have expanded Sodsaver nationwide, but it would only have reduced crop insurance for the first four years of the pillage of native prairie. That's far from perfect—the Izaak Walton League has called for a complete prohibition on federal crop insurance and federal subsidies for such short-sighted, habitat-destroying farming—but it's better than nothing.
Senator Thune got an identical watered-down Sodsaver provision in the Senate version of the Farm Bill. But Noem couldn't get that fingerprint on the Farm Bill. She couldn't get House Ag chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma to sign on, and Rep. Walz had to withdraw his Sodsaver proposal.
Related: Noem also had to back down on an amendment to continue USDA funding of ethanol blender pumps.
The Environmental Working Group calls the House Farm Bill a budget-buster, expanding unlimited subsidies for the richest farmers while slashing conservation programs and nutrition assistance for the poor.