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In The Long Run

Irrigated acreage has expanded across the Nation over the decades

Over the past 140 years, the number of acres irrigated has increased steadily, with only three interruptions. The last decline, in the later 1980s, was due to drought and policy-imposed land-idling requirements. Growth in recent years has slowed, relative to the longrun trend. Double-digit rates of growth in Eastern irrigation—first recorded in 1900 as “rice lands”—since the mid-1980s have more than offset recent declines in the West.