Economist examines lost crop production acres
An ag economist says there are fewer U.S. acres growing crops but it is unclear what happened to those lost acres. Scott Irwin with the University of Illinois tells Brownfield there was a puzzling 14.4 million acre drop in total crop acreage after 2014.
Irwin says with that much land out of crop production, he doubts that most of it is bare, but he has been able to figure out where most of the out-of-production acres are. “Most of it is located in the Great Plains states and most of it came out of wheat and hay acreage, so it’s either in fallow, pasture, and there certainly could be development that contributes to that as well.”
Wet weather in 2019 and COVID in 2020 might have influenced planting decisions, but Irwin says 2016 through 2018 acreage losses might have been market-related. “Those are periods with pretty low returns and so we saw these kinds of marginal ground literally fall out of production.”
Irwin says the states with the biggest amount of acres out of production are Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.