The study, commissioned by seven Midwestern state Farm Bureaus,
was conducted by Decision Innovation Solutions of Urbandale,
Iowa. The analysis used a variety of analytical techniques and
tools. Data sets for the years 2007 through 2012 served as the
point of reference.
The primary purposes of the study were
twofold: (1) to estimate the degree to which land use changes
have occurred in the states; and (2) to identify potential
factors contributing to land use changes.
Notable conclusions of the study
include the following:
only 3 percent of the total land area in the seven-state
study area shifted away from grassy habitat.
There was a
net move toward grassy habitat from nonagricultural land.
economic returns from crop production outpaced those from
conservation programs, large net shifts of land toward crop
production did not uniformly occur throughout the study
The research does not support the
notion that crop insurance subsides and net returns alone
are the dominant factors contributing to loss of grassy
habitat, especially when observed from a regional
Other conclusions include the
To base policy
decisions solely upon results from the USDA's Cropland Data
Layer data sets can lead to less-than-optimal outcomes with
regard to land use patterns, especially when using earlier
The study of
land use change is a complex issue that cannot be reduced to
a few variables.
across the seven Midwestern states studied is very diverse,
with USDA using more than 130 categories to classify land
use in its annual data layer.
continues to evolve in the Midwest, just as it has for
centuries. New crops emerge and others fade away as market
demand changes over time.
this study confirm that land use changes reflect a wide
range of changes in land uses.
The Conservation Reserve Program
continues to perform as intended, which is to provide for
flexibility in total U.S. acreage devoted to the production
of food, fiber and fuel, while protecting more ecologically
[to top of second column]
"Land use is a complex matter," said Dave Miller, director of
research and commodity services at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.
"To fairly assess what and why changes are happening with a limited
resource like land, you have to examine it in the right context.
"Our state Farm Bureaus felt that to adequately address land use
challenges, we needed to understand what was happening and why,"
Miller said. "A complete analysis that studied changes both to and
from wildlife habitat had not been done, and this was the impetus
behind our multistate study."
Other land use studies have focused on the extent to which land
is being converted to crop production, or more specifically, to
federal farm program crops or to crops covered by crop insurance.
Such studies lack the context and analysis to properly measure the
impact of other factors on land use. Factors like water
availability, net returns to crop production, conservation program
changes, land values and alternative opportunities for the land all
affect land use decisions.
"We are pleased with the ability of the results to convey a more
complete picture on this important topic. By working with several
Midwestern states, we have a much better understanding of the nature
of land use change in this key U.S. region," said Spencer Parkinson,
executive director of Decision Innovation Solutions.
"No one is more interested in knowing and understanding the
reasons behind land use trends than the American farmer," said
Philip Nelson, president of the Illinois Farm Bureau. "The analysis
shows that just as it has for centuries, land use continues to
evolve and is not just the result of farm policy or farm risk
[Text from file received from
Illinois Farm Bureau]
Decision Innovation Solutions is an Iowa-based economic research
firm dedicated to giving agribusiness decision-makers the tools and
information needed to chart their own direction. DIS team members
use their production and agribusiness experience and insight,
coupled with proprietary analysis tools, to help clients ask better
questions, receive better answers and make better decisions.
The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau
Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded
in 1916, IFB is a nonprofit, membership organization directed by
farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total
membership of more than 400,000, a voting membership of more than
82,000 and represents 3 out of 4 Illinois farmers.