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This paper presents a mathematical model incorporating production returns and government payments to evaluate how selected past, present, and proposed USDA conservation and commodity programs will influence incentives to retire erodible cropland. Analysis revealed that USDA's new conservation reserve program will make commodity programs reinforce rather than dilute incentives to retire erodible cropland. Application to a southeastern Washington wheat production region revealed that the conservation reserve greatly diminished disincentives to retire erodible land, but that strengthening the program by providing farmers supplemental annual payments per retired acre, as proposed by legislation before Congress, would likely still be needed.


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