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2022 Census of Agriculture: Sales of organic agricultural products concentrated in California

Monday, July 1, 2024

The 2022 Census of Agriculture showed that California led the Nation in organically produced agricultural commodities sold from farms. Census data include certified organic operations as well as those exempt from certification because of their small size (farms and businesses with less than $5,000 in gross annual organic sales). Certified and exempt organic operations both use agricultural production practices that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices to foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. In 2022, U.S. organic sales reached $9.6 billion, almost $1 billion more than in 2017, when adjusted for inflation to 2022 dollars. Organic sales are highly concentrated along the West Coast, particularly in California, which had more than $3.7 billion in organic sales in 2022, almost 40 percent of the Nation’s organic sales. Organic sales in California increased by 12 percent when adjusted for inflation from 2017 to 2022. Organic product sales are also concentrated in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions, as well as southeast Pennsylvania and central North Carolina. Since many counties have few sellers of organically produced agricultural commodities, USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) withholds information at the county level to keep data private for individual farms. Counties with published sales at the county level make up $8.3 billion in organic sales (86 percent of the total), while 14 percent of total production occurs in the gray areas of the map. For example, Alaska and Delaware have no organic sales reported at the county level but report 2022 sales of $841,000 and $8.3 million at the State level, respectively. Some States, such as California, New York, and Washington, have more than 98 percent of State-level sales reported via county-level data. This chart was drawn from the NASS 2022 Census of Agriculture. For more on organic sales, see the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Organic Agriculture topic page.

Wind energy development varies by region

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

As of 2020, large-scale, commercial wind energy development in the contiguous United States has been concentrated in areas with consistent, high wind speeds. Wind turbines are most prominent in the Plains, followed by the Midwest and West. While the regional distribution of wind energy development is influenced by State-level energy policy, one of the most important factors for development is the wind potential in a region. Some regions, such as the South, lack sufficient wind potential for large-scale development. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) researchers found that 90 percent of wind turbines in rural areas were installed on agricultural land (crop, pasture, or range land). Because the amount of land cover directly affected by wind turbines was small relative to the amount of farmland, and because farmers and ranchers can typically continue agricultural production near wind turbines after they are installed, land cover changed on only 4.8 percent of sites after installation. Some of this change was from one agricultural use to another, such as from cropland to pasture. The estimated footprint for wind farms was roughly 88,000 acres in 2020. For more about the expansion of wind and solar in rural areas of the contiguous United States, the regional distribution of renewable energy development, and the land cover change associated with development, see the ERS report Utility-Scale Solar and Wind Development in Rural Areas: Land Cover Change (2009–20), released in May 2024.

Following the Sun: solar energy development varies by region

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Solar energy development has been concentrated in the Atlantic and West regions of the United States, especially in California, North Carolina, and Massachusetts. These States are among those with policies that have promoted renewable energy development—much of it occurring in rural areas. Between 2016 and 2020, utility-scale solar capacity in rural areas more than doubled, increasing to 45 gigawatts, 3.7 percent of U.S. electric power capacity, and the number of solar projects increased from 2,316 to 3,364. Roughly 70 percent of the solar projects installed between 2009 and 2020 in rural areas were located on agricultural land. About 336,000 acres of rural land were estimated to have been directly affected by solar development. For more about the expansion of solar and wind in rural areas of the contiguous United States, the regional distribution of renewable energy development, and the land cover change associated with development, see the USDA, Economic Research Service report Utility-Scale Solar and Wind Development in Rural Areas: Land Cover Change (2009–20), released in May 2024.

Energy development payments to farmers vary by region

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Energy markets experienced significant shifts beginning in the early 2000s, with price increases and technological improvements leading to a dramatic increase in oil and natural gas production, as well as wind energy development. Research by USDA, Economic Research Service shows that the Plains region had the largest share of farm producers receiving energy payments from energy developers for on-farm energy production, 7.40 percent, and the largest average annual payment, $39,087, between 2011–20. This region includes States with significant oil, natural gas, and wind energy production, such as Texas and Oklahoma, as well as a high proportion of farmers who own the oil and gas development rights to their land. The West and Atlantic regions have a far lower share of producers who received payments on average, 2.18 and 2.82 percent, respectively. Significant oil and gas production in the Atlantic is limited to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and many producers in the West do not own their land’s oil and gas mineral rights, which can be legally separated from land rights. However, for those receiving payments, the average annual payments in the West and Atlantic regions were $31,821 and $29,015, respectively. These payments were near the national average of $30,482. The lowest proportion of farmers receiving energy payments was in the South, at 1.45 percent. Most Southern States have low potential for large-scale wind energy development and little onshore oil and natural gas development. In the Midwest, where there is little oil and gas production and more wind power, payments were less common, 2.34 percent, and producers received the lowest average payment, $10,953. Read more about the size, frequency, trends, and relative contribution of energy payments to farm operator income in the ERS report The Role of Commercial Energy Payments in Agricultural Producer Income, released in April 2024.

Energy payments to farmers rise and fall with oil prices

Monday, May 6, 2024

The amount of money farmers receive for leasing their land for the production of energy, such as oil, natural gas, or wind, varies significantly from year to year and has typically followed the price of oil. According to data analyzed by USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) researchers, payments grew from an average of $38,788 in 2011 to $62,944 in 2013, when the price of oil averaged about $110 per barrel (adjusted for inflation), but then fell as low as $14,032 in 2020, when oil was near $40 per barrel. Not all farmers receive energy payments since many farm operators do not own their land, and even for those who do, subsurface mineral rights might have been separated from surface rights so that the farmer would not receive payments from on-farm energy production. For farmers who have historically benefited from energy, development of oil and natural gas have been a more common source of income than wind power, which is a younger industry. In the United States, about 3.5 percent of farm operations received energy payments between 2011 and 2020. Read more about the size, frequency, trends, and relative contribution of energy payments to farm operator income in the ERS report The Role of Commercial Energy Payments in Agricultural Producer Income, released in April 2024.

USDA forecasts $4 billion in conservation program payments in 2024

Monday, April 22, 2024

USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) forecasts direct Federal payments for conservation programs for 2024 to increase by 10 percent, more than $363 million in inflation-adjusted terms, to $4 billion. This increase primarily is due to expected payments from the Inflation Reduction Act used to support various conservation programs. The act allocated $19.5 billion to support USDA conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, and the Conservation Technical Assistance Program. Among this allocation is also the fund dedicated to measure, evaluate, quantify carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission reductions from conservation investments. These programs are aimed at helping farmers and ranchers expand conservation practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase storage of carbon in soil and trees. Conservation payments include programs under the management of the USDA, Farm Service Agency, such as the Conservation Reserve Program, as well as the USDA, Natural Resources and Conservation Service. ERS tracks Government payments made directly from the U.S. Government to farm sector recipients such as farm and ranch operators, contractors, and nonoperator landlords. The term “direct” emphasizes that there are no intermediaries acting between the U.S. Government and farm sector recipients, so insurance indemnities are excluded. The forecast conservation payments are in line with the 27-year average from 1996 through 2022 of $4.1 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars. However, despite the increase, forecast 2024 levels—if realized—are below the record for highest conservation payments of more than $5 billion in 2011. This chart is drawn from the ERS Farm Income and Wealth Statistics data product.

2022 Census of Agriculture: Cover crop use continues to be most common in eastern United States

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

U.S. cropland area planted to cover crops increased 17 percent between 2017 and 2022, from 15,390,674 acres to 17,985,831 acres, data from the recently released Census of Agriculture show. That means cover crops were planted on 4.7 percent of total cropland in 2022. Producers often use cover crops to provide living, seasonal soil cover between the planting of two cash (commodity) or forage crops. Including cover crops in a rotation can provide benefits such as improved soil health and water quality, weed suppression, and reduced soil erosion. Regional differences in the use of cover crops are related to factors such as climate, soils, cropping systems, and State incentive programs. For example, Maryland, which has the highest rate of cover crop use, has programs that encourage farmers to grow cover crops to help improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. Cover cropping is more common in the southern and eastern parts of the U.S. because of soil and climate conditions, among other factors. It is more difficult to establish and grow cover crops in regions that are colder, receive less precipitation, and have a shorter growing season, so the western and northern parts of the United States have lower rates of cover crop use. One of the States with the greatest increase in cover crop acres as a proportion of total cropland from 2017 to 2022 was Texas, which also had the largest absolute increase in cover crop acreage. Cover crop acreage in Texas increased more than 50 percent (from 1,014,145 acres in 2017 to 1,550,789 acres in 2022). Cover crop use decreased in 2022 in some eastern States (Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Kentucky). For more information about factors affecting U.S. cover crop adoption, see the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) report Cover Crop Trends, Programs, and Practices in the United States, published in February 2021. See also these ERS Charts of Note: Cover crop mixes account for 18 to 25 percent of major commodity acreage with cover crops, published in December 2022, and More farmers are adding fall cover crops to their corn-for-grain, cotton, and soybean fields, published in May 2022. For more Census of Agriculture data, see the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service’s 2022 Census of Agriculture.

Farmland renters and owner-operators use similar levels of tillage intensity

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) researchers investigated whether tillage practices were different between farmers who were renters or farmers who owned the land. Farming systems that decrease soil disturbance and preserve more crop residue than conventional tillage may improve the soil, but these practices have upfront costs (in new machinery, for instance), and any soil health benefits captured by the operator may be delayed into the future, perhaps until after a new renter has taken over the land. For this reason, renters may be less inclined to adopt tillage practices that decrease soil disturbance. Researchers examined tillage practices as measured by the Soil Tillage Intensity Rating (STIR) values for five major crops (corn, soybeans, cotton, barley, and sorghum). STIR values are determined by the operational speed of tillage equipment, tillage type, depth of the tillage operation, and degree of disturbance of the soil surface. STIR values range from zero to 200, with lower values indicating less soil disturbance. Over the two survey years specific for each, both crop owner-operators and renters generally showed reductions in STIR values. For instance, on sorghum acres, the estimated average STIR value of owner-operators was 55 in 2011 and 48 in 2019. Both cash and share renters also reported engaging in practices that led STIR values to fall, with values by cash renters falling the most. Researchers found that all three groups exhibited similar rates of tillage intensity, indicating that they are responding to economic incentives presented by reduced tillage systems similarly. This can be attributed to the fact that although soil health benefits may only be seen in the medium-to-long term, reducing soil disturbance can result in time and energy savings immediately. This chart can be found in the ERS report Farmland Rental and Conservation Practice Adoption, published in March 2024.

Agriculture accounted for an estimated 10.6 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Farming activities in the United States accounted for 10.6 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021. From 2020 to 2021, agricultural greenhouse gas emissions remained nearly constant but decreased from 11.1 percent to 10.6 percent as a share of total U.S. emissions because of changes in other industries. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that in 2021, agriculture emitted 312.6 MMT as nitrous oxide (N2O), 278.4 MMT as methane (CH4), 44.7 MMT as on-farm carbon dioxide (CO2), and 35.7 MMT emitted indirectly through the electricity that the agricultural sector uses. Emissions include activities that emit nitrous oxide, such as fertilizer application and manure storage and management, and methane from enteric fermentation (a normal digestive process in animals). Of the common economic sectors in the United States defined by the Energy Information Administration, industry accounted for the largest portion of total greenhouse gas emissions (30.1 percent), followed by transportation, commercial, residential, agriculture, and U.S. territories (no specific consumption data can be attributed within the territories, so they are listed as a group). Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 were 2.3 percent lower than they were in 1990. This chart appears in the USDA, Economic Research Service topic page Climate Change.

Emergency Relief Program payments aiding U.S. crop producers concentrated in North Dakota and Texas

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

In 2020 and 2021, the United States experienced 42 disaster events that each resulted in damages of at least $1 billion, including hurricanes, drought, and wildfires. The Emergency Relief Program (ERP) provides funds to assist commodity growers who suffered losses from natural disasters in 2020 and 2021. As of January 2023, cumulative payments made through the ERP totaled $7.3 billion. USDA disbursed a large portion of this total, $1.16 billion, to North Dakota producers of corn ($322 million), soybeans ($309 million), and wheat ($268 million) who experienced flooding in 2020 and drought in 2021. Texas producers also received a sizable portion of payments, with cotton farmers receiving $510 million of the $909 million disbursed in that State. Producers in North Dakota and Texas received most ERP payments for losses in revenue, quality, or production as a result of moisture and drought that occurred during the 2020 and 2021 crop years. The remaining top States receiving ERP payments were South Dakota ($567 million), Minnesota ($463 million), and Iowa ($408 million), which, together with North Dakota and Texas, represented approximately 48 percent of the total ERP payments disbursed as of January 2023. In early 2023, USDA launched a second phase of the ERP program, but disbursements from this phase are not included in these totals. This chart first appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service report U.S. Agricultural Policy Review, 2022, published in November 2023.

Irrigated agricultural acreage has grown, shifting eastward, while western irrigated acreage has declined

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

U.S. irrigated agriculture has seen regional changes in the past two decades, influenced by a variety of factors. From 1997 to 2017, total U.S. irrigated agricultural acreage increased by 1.7 million acres. Irrigated acreage grew primarily in the eastern United States, where agriculture production is historically rain-fed, and declined in the West, where a generally arid climate necessitates irrigation for most crops. In the East, increased frequency and severity of drought have driven farmers to move from rain-fed to irrigated production. In the West, farmers have begun to take irrigated land out of production as surface water supplies dry up, and they face increasing competition for water from growing urban centers. This chart was drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report Trends in U.S. Irrigated Agriculture: Increasing Resilience Under Water Supply Scarcity, published in December 2021.

Organic strawberries bring growers higher prices than conventional berries

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Fresh strawberry prices tend to exhibit strong seasonal trends in part because of their relatively short shelf life. Even being refrigerated immediately after harvest, fresh-picked strawberries last about 1 to 2 weeks, reducing the ability to store the crop and maintain a consistent supply. In the United States, grower prices for fresh organic strawberries move in tandem with conventional strawberry prices throughout the year while also typically running 40 to 50 percent higher than conventional prices—this difference is known as a “price premium.” In late fall and throughout winter, supply wanes even though demand remains robust. During this period, grower (or farm-gate) price premiums for organic strawberries rise above typical levels. From 2018–22, the highest average price premium was in January, when organic strawberry prices were 74 to 88 percent higher than conventional strawberries. Price premiums in July averaged 18 to 24 percent. Organic strawberry production has increased faster than conventional production. Since 2008, domestic organic strawberry acreage has tripled in California, which provides about 75 percent of U.S. organic strawberry production. This chart updates one that appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service report The Changing Landscape of U.S. Strawberry and Blueberry Markets: Production, Trade, and Challenges from 2000 to 2020, published in September 2023.

Pennsylvania leads country in organic mushroom production

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Pennsylvania led the United States in organic mushroom production with about 9.6 million square feet devoted to organic mushrooms in 2021. That amounts to about 61 percent of total U.S. square footage, a significant increase from 39 percent in 2019. California followed Pennsylvania, producing about 3.3 million square feet in 2021. Pennsylvania also leads the United States in conventional mushroom production. Mushrooms generally are produced in a controlled environment, so natural soil and temperature conditions are likely not factors in Pennsylvania’s dominance in this industry. Instead, Pennsylvania farmers have been significant producers of mushrooms since the 1880s and have the specialized knowledge and ventilated housing needed for extensive mushroom production, as well as organic straw and manure for use as composted substrate (the surface material on which mushrooms are grown). Farmers grow Agaricus, which includes the common white button mushroom, portabello, and crimini varieties, as well as specialty mushrooms such as shiitake, oyster, and other exotic mushrooms. The Mushroom Council, an organization of U.S. fresh mushroom producers, reports that at the retail level in 2022, organic crimini mushrooms made up 43 percent of the volume of organic sales, white 42 percent, portabello 9 percent, shiitake 3 percent, and other specialty mushroom varieties 3 percent. This chart appears in the USDA, Economic Research Service special article U.S. Organic Mushroom Industry Overview in the Vegetables and Pulses Outlook: December 2022, published in December 2022.

Irrigation water delivery organizations play important role in conveying water in the western United States

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Water is withdrawn from surface and groundwater sources for agricultural, industrial and municipal use. Farmers in the United States source water for irrigation by diverting it from on-farm surface water bodies like rivers or streams, directly pumping groundwater, or receiving water via the canals and ditches of water delivery irrigation organizations. In the four regions of the western United States (consisting of the Northwest (Idaho, Oregon, and Washington), Pacific (California and Nevada), Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah), and Eastern Rockies (Colorado, Montana, Wyoming) regions) irrigation water delivery organizations accounted for almost 60 percent of the water that is withdrawn for all uses in an average year. In contrast, in the High Plains (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas) and Southeast (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina), where surface and ground water resources for irrigation are available without large-scale coordination, these organizations conveyed water that amounted to about 3 percent of all water withdrawn in an average year. Irrigation water delivery organizations play a particularly large role in the Southwest, where in 2019 they conveyed 11 million acre-feet of water, which is 73 percent of the 15 million acre-feet withdrawn for all uses in an average year. This chart appears in the ERS report Irrigation Organizations: Water Inflows and Outflows, published in August 2023.

Irrigation organizations in Pacific region more likely to trade water with other irrigation organizations

Monday, August 21, 2023

Irrigation water delivery organizations play a key role in delivering water to farms, ranches, and nonagricultural users in the United States. Results from the 2019 Survey of Irrigation Organizations (SIO) show that 2,477 organizations in western regions were directly involved in delivering water to farms. About 70 percent of the water withdrawn from freshwater sources for irrigation in the western regions of the United States is managed by irrigation water delivery organizations. In most regions, organizations that allow transfers internally between their users were more common than organizations engaging in external trades with other entities. Some of these organizations trade water by leasing it to or from other irrigation organizations, municipalities, environmental groups, or other interested parties. In the Pacific region, 17 percent of organizations engage in these external leases, compared to between 3 and 7 percent in other regions in the western United States. Water exchanges may also occur internally between water users within a delivery organization’s own water delivery system, if allowed by the organization. Internal transfers between users in an organization occurred in 5 percent of organizations in the Pacific and between 8 and 11 percent of organizations in other regions of the western United States. This chart appears in the USDA Economic Research Service publication Irrigation Organizations: Water Inflows and Outflows, published in August 2023.

Federal projects provide nearly half of water conveyed by large irrigation water delivery organizations

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Irrigation water delivery organizations are entities such as irrigation districts and ditch companies that supply farmers, ranchers, and other users with water. These organizations draw water from several different sources. Water from Federal water projects and direct diversions from surface water bodies make up the majority of inflows to these organizations. Yet there is substantial variation across organizations based on size. Large water delivery organizations, (which supply water to more than 10,000 acres) tend to contract water from Federal water storage facilities rather than draw from natural surface sources such as rivers. However, small water delivery organizations (supporting less than 1,000 acres) draw a much higher proportion of their water inflows from surface sources. These differences reflect the historical development of irrigation organizations, with larger organizations developing in tandem with or as part of top-down approaches to provide water for irrigation, while small organizations developed from the ground up as small private ventures or community-led efforts. This chart appears in the USDA Economic Research Service publication Irrigation Organizations: Water Inflows and Outflows, published in August 2023.

Drought conditions have improved in much of the Western United States compared with the last two years

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

As of July 2023, drought conditions have improved across much of the Western United States (consisting of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming) compared not only with earlier in the year, but also with 2021 and 2022. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, on July 11, 2023, 3 percent of land in the Western States was classified as experiencing extreme or exceptional drought, with an additional 8 percent classified as severe. This is down from June 2023, when 18 percent of land in Western States was classified as in extreme or exceptional drought. Significant precipitation and snowpack accumulation over the 2022–2023 winter and spring has reduced the prevalence of drought in the area, notably in California. However, conditions remain dry in Kansas and Nebraska where severe or worse drought conditions affect 55 and 48 percent of land, respectively. Data reported by U.S. Drought Monitor show Western drought conditions intensified during summer 2021, then gradually subsided between October and December 2021. They intensified again during the first half of 2022 before starting to subside again. For agriculture, drought means diminished crop and livestock outputs and reduced profitability if adaptive measures such as irrigation are not used. Drought also reduces the quantity of snowpack and streamflow available for diversions to irrigated agricultural land. These impacts can reverberate throughout local, regional, and national economies. Find additional information on the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Newsroom page Drought in the Western United States.

Primary role of groundwater management organizations varies

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Groundwater management organizations are local entities that influence on-farm groundwater use through statutory, regulatory, or other powers. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) researchers studying irrigation identified two broad categories of groundwater organizations during a 2019 survey: those that influence only on-farm groundwater use (“groundwater only”) and organizations that both influence on-farm groundwater use and deliver surface water to farms (“groundwater and delivery”). More than 75 percent of “groundwater-only” organizations monitor groundwater conditions and collect pumping data. A smaller proportion of “groundwater and delivery organizations” monitor groundwater conditions or collect pumping data (approximately 38 percent and 34 percent, respectively). Charging pumping or water rights fees is a relatively common function among “groundwater and delivery organizations,” with 55 percent of these organizations charging fees compared with 40 percent of “groundwater only” organizations. Issuing permits for the development of new wells is also a common management function, particularly among “groundwater only” organizations. About 61 percent of “groundwater only” organizations engage in permitting, while 8 percent of “groundwater and delivery organizations” do. According to USDA data, about 65 percent of all irrigated U.S. acreage relied on groundwater as a primary or secondary source of water in 2018. This chart appears in the ERS report Irrigation Organizations: Groundwater Organizations, published in April 2023.

Farmers spread most manure through surface applications

Monday, July 3, 2023

Between 2013 and 2019, the leading manure application method for farmers of major field crops was to apply manure to the surface without incorporating it—the simplest method in which manure is flailed or sprayed out of wagons and left on the ground. This method was used on 8.3 million acres, including about 6 million acres of corn. Surface application with incorporation was the next most common method, used on 5.5 million acres. With incorporation, manure is first spread on the soil surface and then mixed into the first few inches with a tillage implement, thus increasing its contact with the soil. The least common method was applying or injecting the manure directly in one operation, often with a chisel, disk, or knifing implement, used on 3.2 million acres. Injecting liquid manure below the soil surface or incorporating manure after surface application conserves more nutrients and increases the fertilizer value. Surface application without incorporation results in less nutrient retention. Manure is a valuable source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which can make it a substitute for, or complement to, commercial fertilizers. In 2020, farmers were estimated to have applied manure to about 7.7 percent of the 240.9 million acres planted to 7 major U.S. field crops (corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, oats, peanuts, and barley). This chart appears in the ERS report, Increasing the Value of Animal Manure for Farmers, published in March 2023. See also the Amber Waves article Despite Challenges, Research Shows Opportunity to Increase Use of Manure as Fertilizer, published in April 2023.

Conservation Reserve Program reaches 22 million enrolled acres in 2022

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

USDA's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was established by Congress in 1985. By 1986, the program began to use contracts to retire highly erodible cropland from crop production for 10–15 years. Enrollment grew quickly, reaching 33 million acres in 1990. After the initial contracts were awarded, program goals expanded to include water quality and wildlife habitat improvements in addition to soil erosion reduction. Between 1990 and 2008, CRP enrollment fluctuated around 33 million acres before falling to a 30-year low in 2021. Annual enrollment caps for eligible land are set at each iteration of the Farm Bill. As of the end of fiscal year 2022, the CRP acreage rose to 22 million acres after the low in 2021. This chart updates information in the USDA, Economic Research Service report The Fate of Land in Expiring Conservation Reserve Program Contracts, 2013–16, published in January 2020.