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'Retired' Sensitive Cropland: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?

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Environmentally Sensitive Land Lost to Agriculture

This map shows acres that dropped out of the federal Conservation Reserve Program between 2007 and 2014, by county. Most CRP contracts enroll acres in the program for 10 years, but when contracts expire landowners are not required to keep their land in retirement. During these years, 15.8 million acres were not re-enrolled into CRP when contracts expired. The acres that were not re-enrolled were likely plowed up and planted to crops.


It cost taxpayers at least $7.3 billion in annual rental payments and assistance to establish protective cover on those acres, and since the acres were likely torn up once again, the environmental gains paid for by taxpayers vanished. The pop-up boxes for each county show the number of acres that expired from CRP and were not re-enrolled in the program, as well as the amount of money taxpayers paid for the 10-year CRP contracts – investments that have now been lost.

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