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Conservation compliance effectiveness depends on where the money goes

USDA’s Conservation Compliance Program was designed to ensure that Federal farm programs did not encourage crop production on highly erodible land (HEL) in the absence of measures to protect against soil erosion. Under this program, farmers who grow crops on HEL must apply an approved soil conservation system or risk losing eligibility for Federal income support, conservation, and other payments.

The effectiveness of conservation compliance in enhancing soil conservation depends, in part, on the extent to which farms that crop HEL also receive Federal farm program payments. Overall, 86 percent of all cropland and about 83 percent of highly erodible cropland is located on farms that receive farm program payments.