Meanwhile, the future of agriculture-related conservation programs is hung up in Congress. The main five-year farm bill, pushed by House Republicans, would not require farmers to meet conservation requirements to get crop insurance subsidies. The Senate version of the bill would force farmers to meet the requirements.
House GOP leaders have delayed calling the five-year bill for a vote, which has shielded some Republican freshmen from making politically difficult votes. The Senate has passed its version of the farm bill.
Both versions of the bill would cut $6.4 billion from conservation programs.
Between 2008 and 2011, about 23.7 million acres were converted to farmland, the report says, citing Agriculture Department statistics. That is because American taxpayers back about 62 percent of crop insurance premiums, thereby incentivizing farmers to plow lands that normally would not generate a profit, Faber said.