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In The Long Run

USDA conservation spending on working agricultural lands bucks long-term trend

For over 70 years, USDA has provided financial assistance to help farmers implement conservation practices on working agricultural lands or on lands temporarily retired from production. Farmers have also received technical assistance for the purpose of helping to ensure that conservation plans are effectively designed and implemented.

As measured in constant (2002) dollars, Federal conservation assistance has fluctuated widely over the period. Peaks have typically been associated with large-scale land retirement in the Agricultural Conservation (1936-1943), Soil Bank (1956-1972), and Conservation Reserve (1986-present) Programs. Beginning in 2002, however, the major increase in conservation assistance was directed to programs that help farmers defray conservation costs on working agricultural lands.