"U.S. Program To Save Fragile Land Shrinks in Size To 25-Year Low"

"The U.S. program that pays farmers to idle fragile cropland soon will protect the smallest amount of land in a quarter-century, the government said on Monday, the result of several years of sky-high commodity prices that have encouraged farmers to plant as much as possible."

"The Conservation Reserve will hold roughly 25.3 million acres (10.2 million hectares) on October 1, down in size by one-third from its peak of 36.8 million acres in 2007.

It would be the smallest area in the long-term set aside since 1988, when the program was two years old. Some 26.9 million acres is enrolled at present. Contracts on 3.3 million acres expire at the end of this fiscal year and 1.7 million acres are approved for entry on Oct 1.

Enrollment has fallen during the agricultural boom that began when global demand for crops surged. Market prices for U.S. corn and soybeans have more than doubled since the 2006 harvest. Keen for profits, owners returned land into production."

Charles Abbott reports for Reuters July 23, 2013.

Source: Reuters, 07/24/2013