Millions of acres were recently taken out of a government program that prevented the land from being used by farm equipment.
According to a report from the Associated Press, 3.4 million acres were removed from the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program in September. The point of the program, which was created in 1985, is to help prevent conditions such as those seen during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s through allowing native grasses to grow.
The AP story notes that the 2008 Farm Bill put a cap on the program of 32 million acres. Those who used to farm the land had agreements with the government that paid them an average of $51 an acre. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the payments are made possible by Commodity Credit Corporation, which was established to help protect farm incomes.
Some of those contracts - which lasted from 10 to 20 years - are expiring, leaving landowners with little choice but to take farm equipment back on the land in order to keep up with tax payments.
"Farmers also worry more grain will mean even lower commodity crop prices," the report stated.
However, reducing the acreage in the program may lead to cheaper food prices for consumers and provide a boost for rural economies.