Crop Insurance: Risking Habitats?

As record commodity prices have pushed farmers to put more land into production, land enrolled in federal conservation programs has declined. Environmental and wildlife advocates are calling for adjustments to the taxpayer-backed crop insurance program as a way to reduce incentives to boost planting. Supporters of the subsidies say those changes would discourage farmers from enrolling and offer few environmental benefits.

Published Oct. 29, 2013

Participation in Conservation Reserve
Program Declines to 23-Year Low

As cropland has expanded, nationwide enrollment in the government’s Conservation Reserve Program has dropped 20 percent from its 2007 peak, to 29.5 million acres in 2012. The program was established in 1985 and gives farmers a yearly rental payment on environmentally sensitive land if they replace crop production with plant species that improve environmental health.

North Dakota, Montana Lead Exodus

Great Plains states, led by North Dakota and Montana, have seen the biggest conservation-acreage declines, as high prices for corn, soybeans and wheat have pushed idle land into production.

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bloomberg reporting

GRAPHIC: DAVID INGOLD / BLOOMBERG VISUAL DATA