The USDA's Economic Research Service has released a report outlining the Conservation Reserve Program’s economic effects in rural counties since the program began in 1985.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • The ERS analysis indicates no discernible impact by the CRP on aggregate county-population trends.
  • High CRP enrollment in some areas did have some negative short-term effects on employment, according to the report, and longer-term impacts on farm-related business. However, over time, growth in non-farm businesses made up for losses in farm employment.
  • The report estimates if CRP contracts had ended in 2001, about 51 percent of CRP land would have returned to crop production and spending on outdoor recreation would decrease by as much as $300 million per year in rural areas.

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