350 Agriculture:Eliminate the Conservation Reserve Program

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024
  • 2025
  • 2016-2020
  • 2016-2025


Savings based on CBO projections of program cost as found on page 26 of “CBO’s April 2014 Baseline for Farm Programs,” April 14, 2014. The CBO’s estimates provide projected costs for 2013–2024. Because the costs do not follow any particular trend, Heritage analysts used an average of the 2016–2024 period as the 2025 value.


Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.


Heritage Recommendation:

Eliminate the Conservation Reserve Program. This proposal saves $19.2 billion over 10 years.


Federal govt paying farmers not to farm?! Does it pay you not to work?

The Conservation Reserve Program pays farmers not to farm. In return for not farming allegedly environmentally sensitive land, farmers receive annual payments, courtesy of taxpayers; contracts last for 10 to 15 years. Much of this land could be highly productive land if it were used.

By taking land out of production, there is less land that could be used to meet important agricultural needs and increase the supply of important commodities. The reduced supply of land can drive up real-estate prices making it more difficult for farmers to expand operations and for new farmers to get a start in agriculture in the first place.

Federal govt paying farmers not to farm?! Does it pay you not to work?

Contributing Expert

Daren Bakst studies and writes about agriculture subsidies, property rights, environmental policy, food labeling and related issues as The Heritage Foundation’s research fellow in agricultural policy.

See publications by Daren Bakst

Daren BakstResearch Fellow in Agricultural Policy

Heritage Expert

Diane Katz, who has analyzed and written on public policy issues for more than two decades, is a research fellow in regulatory policy at The Heritage Foundation.

See publications by Diane Katz

Diane KatzResearch Fellow in Regulatory Policy

Additional Reading