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Secretary of Agriculture: 30 by 30 plan not a ‘land grab;’ questions, concerns linger

Farmland in Graham County, Kansas
Farmland in Graham County, Kansas(KWCH 12)
Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 4:23 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Biden Administration’s 30 by 30 Plan is supposed to fight climate change by conserving 30 percent of the nation’s land and waters. It’s something that’s sparked meetings across western Kansas and left landowners concerned that the federal government could take control of their land, or at least direct them on what they can do on it.

Eyewitness News is learning more about the plan and its impact in Kansas. On Wednesday, April 28, Eyewitness News reporter Grant DeMars explained what’s known so far and addressed questions that many Kansans still have.

Currently, 12 percent of the nation’s land is protected. That amounts to about 289 million acres. The 30 by 30 plan would increase that to 30 percent, adding 440 million more acres by 2030. That would bring the total federally protected acreage in the U.S. to 729 million acres. The plan has some Kansas farmers and ranchers concerned, calling in a “land grab.”

“We don’t need the federal government telling us how to manage our land in the state of Kansas,” Kansas farmer Mary Powell said.

On Monday, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack said that’s not the case.

“There is no intent to take land away from farmers. The goal here is to create new opportunities,” he said on a call with journalists.

Reporting on that meeting, the Hutchinson News reported that Vilsack said the Biden Administration and USDA “want to incentivize farmers and ranchers to use the tools that he has at the USDA to compensate and pay farmers for being good stewards of their land.”

“(We want them to) embrace new opportunities and new ways,” he said. “None of it involves taking anyone’s land or using eminent domain.”

The opportunities he spoke of could be similar to conservation programs already in place like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) which make up about 4 million acres combined in Kansas, essentially providing payment for doing a certain level of conservation practices.

But many questions about the 30 by 30 plan remain, including what land it will impact and how much of that will be in Kansas. For now, farmers and ranchers are waiting to learn those details.

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