World population is expected to increase by 40 percent by the year 2000. The rate of expans10n of new cropland is slowmg down. Increased food requirements must therefore be met primanly through application of new technology and protection of cropland from the ravages of erosion and other forms of deterioration. The USA has recently completed 50 years of expenence with ma Jar programmes to control erosion. The history of the establishment and evolution of those programmes within a changing pohtical environment is briefly revtewed. The 1111hal programmes were implemented mall areas of the USA. However, recent surveys have md1cated that harmful rates of erosion are lm11ted to approximately20 percent of the cropland. Some progress has been made at targeting control efforts to areas of high on-farm erosion rates.