The last Farm Bill contained incentives for farmers to keep planting on degraded land, setting up potential environmental catastrophe.
Over the past decade, farmers in the Great Southern Plains have suffered the worst drought conditions since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. They've battled heat, dust storms and in recent weeks, fires that devoured more than 900,000 acres and killed thousands of cattle.
These extreme conditions are being fueled by climate change. But a new report from an environmental advocacy group says they're also being driven by federal crop insurance policy that encourages farmers to continue planting crops on compromised land, year after year.
"Dust bowl conditions are coming back. Drought is back. Dust storms are back. All the climate models show the weather getting worse," said Craig Cox of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which released the report Wednesday. "You'd think the imperative would be on adaptation, so we don't make the same mistakes we did back in the 1930s."
But, Cox explained, a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill—the sprawling legislation that funds farming and nutrition programs—encourages continued degrading of the land, making conditions worse, especially in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, and Kansas.
Read more at Farm Policy in Age of Climate Change Creating Another Dust Bowl, Critics Say