Conservation Reserve Program:

Determining Program's Effects on Production Depends on Assumptions

RCED-90-201: Published: Jul 25, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 25, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed assumptions that would influence an analysis of the Conservation Reserve Program's (CRP) effects on past and future agricultural production.

GAO found that: (1) directly foregone production could be estimated by determining the number of acres enrolled in CRP, but such a calculation might not accurately reflect the effects of CRP on production; (2) the effect of CRP on past production could be determined from the amount of CRP acreage removed from production, the number of acres that might have been in other set-aside programs if CRP did not exist, the potential productivity of CRP acreage, and the possible reallocation of farm resources from CRP acreage to increase production on other acres; (3) estimating the effect of CRP on future production depends on total U.S. future crop production assumptions and CRP acreage returning to production at the end of contract periods; (4) future crop production will be affected by a number of interrelated factors, including natural and economic conditions, public policies, and further Department of Agriculture programs; and (5) the number of CRP acres that will return to production depends on whether producers decide to continue idling those acres or to return them to productive use.

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