udget stress, political change, and heightened globalcompetition are forcing a reexamination of conserva-tion and environmental programs for U.S. agriculture.Questions about reauthorizing the ConservationReserve Program typify the tradeoffs. Currently, that effort isthe major solution to environmental problems related to agricul-ture. But what lands truly merit long-term retirement for envi-ronmental purposes at high cost to taxpayers and exportmarkets? Are less expensive approaches available that save bud-get expense, allow continued production, and ameliorate otherpriority environmental problems?This report responds to a bipartisan request from the SenateAgriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee about theseissues. The analysis identifies priority environmental targetsacross the country for water quality, wildlife, and soil quality. Atripartite set of programs designed to lower cost and achievemore enduring solutions illustrates possible approaches to thetargets. One program strategy, the development of a new genera-tion of technologies that retain farm profits while achievingenvironmental gains, has received little emphasis but appears tohold considerable promise.OTA greatly appreciates the contributions of the many peoplewho helped make this report possible. These include the expertenvironmental panel, authors of background papers, and thosewho reviewed material for the report or gave valuable advice. Aswith all OTA studies, the content of this report is the soleresponsibility of OTA.
ROGER C. HERDMAN