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Soil bank is defined as land that has been held out of agricultural production with an intention of bringing about stability in the commodity prices on the market as well as to promote soil conservation. For instance, if a farmer utilizes his or her land by planting corn, to evade production of corn in excess that can bring about reduction in prices, the government pays the farmer in order for the farmer not to produce corn for a year. In this case the farmer is said to be taking part in the soil bank program (Real Estate Dictionary 1).
The Soil Bank Program
This program was introduced by the U.S government in the year 1956 to bring down agricultural production by changing the land usage pattern from producing crops to conservation uses. This program consisted two parts. These parts were the conservation reserve and the acreage reserve.
The acreage reserve was meant to bring down the production of such crops as, tobacco, corn, wheat, rice, cotton, and peanuts but at the same time holding the farmers income at the original level. These crops were referred to as “allotment crops”. These were the crops that were subjected to acreage limitations during the soil bank program implementation. This acreage reserve under the Soil Bank program was a yearly program applying from 1956 up to 1958. This program thereafter was stopped because of the high costs involved (Outlaw & Klose 4).
Farmers who took part in this program accepted to stop utilizing land for agricultural production and as compensation; they received pay from the government in form of a land-rental payment. These payments were equivalent to the net payment the farmers would have obtained from the production of crops on the land currently under reserve. The payment per acre varied from place to place across the country depending on how productive the land under reserve was and the methods of farming practiced among other considerations. The table below gives the total funds obligated in this program, the total number of acres involved for each year together with the contracts that were involved and the funds.
Acreage Reserve Program of the Soil Bank, 1956 – 1958:
|Acre placed in the Program ( In thousands)|
|Number of Contracts (in thousands)|
|Total funds obligated (in $ millions)|
Peanuts* were not in the 1958 programs.
In the Acreage reserve program, the farmers established contracts with payments that were limited of $ 5000 for each farm imposed in 1958. At the time when the acreage reserve program came to a halt, two main adjustments were made in program requirements for the conservation reserve so as to enhance positioning of comparatively high-yielding land in the conservation reserve and to make contribution of full farm units more attractive. These adjustments accounted for a 35 percent rise in the national fundamental rate and an additional benefit to those who owned the farms who agreed to register all qualified land on their farms in the program for at least five years.
Approximately 70 percent of the total land for growing crops in the conservation reserve was full farm units. This kind of contract took away the whole potential in production of a farm and there was no more land on which intensive cultivation could be practiced. In this program, the farm owner could be allowed to still continue living on the farm, was as well allowed to establish a small garden and even use permanent pasture land. The table below shows the estimates of the achievements derived from conservation during the whole life of the conservation reserve program (Willard & Mary 262).
Achievements from the conservation reserve program:
|Dams and ponds( 6.603 Structures)||14,000|
The Impacts of the Soil Bank Program
The soil bank program, as considered earlier, was meant to control the supply of agricultural commodities on the market and also bring about soil conservation. The tax payers, though burdened, got justification in the conservation benefits. However, there were benefits together with weaknesses in this conservation reserve program. The land for farming could be held from agricultural production for a period of ten years and the farmers receive payment for not growing particular crops. Yet, there was never any requirement made in order to make sure that land that was to be put in this program showed high chances of being eroded or in need of erosion control. The farmers could participate in the soil bank program without the erosion possibility of the farmland.
In this connection, farmers could enroll the pieces of agricultural land that was not very much productive and capitalized on producing crops intensively on the remaining land that is relatively highly productive. Because of this pattern, the production of food and fiber on most farms was not brought down by this program, that is, the soil banking program. In general, the positive impacts of this program included conserving soil together with water, bringing down excess supply of the agricultural commodities on the market and bringing about the improvement of the habitat for the wildlife (David 51).
Although, soil loss was decreased as a consequence of the operation of the soil bank program, this program was exposed to critics from various sections of the society. Most of the land owners enrolled all of their farms in this program and fundamentally stayed without carrying out any agricultural production until the duration of their contracts had elapsed. These farmers had found out that they could generate much more money from participating in this program through leasing out land to the government than they could use this land for producing agricultural commodities. In this case, the criticism from people in the society about this program was to seek to find out how legitimate it was for the government to set up a policy that brought about making payments to people who owned land in order for them not to work.
More so, those people who opposed this program as well noted that those communities that stayed in the rural areas always suffered sizeable economic deficiency when a great section of the land operators in the locality put their land in Soil Bank program. Keeping the land from farming for a long time without carrying out growing of crops caused the local communities to encounter adverse effects since purchasing of farm inputs was greatly brought to a low level. As a consequence, the reduction in the total buying of the farm inputs in the local market highly depressed the economies in the locality.
Further more, the policies of the Soil Bank program were exposed to even much more great criticism at the time when the program came to its end. These criticisms came about for the reason that most of the benefits derived from this program on the environmental aspect became null and void at the time when the land formerly enrolled in the program was put to use again in terms of agricultural production. It turned out to be that this land was put to use once again using the former farm production systems used before implementing the program of Soil Bank. This implied that there was no provision that were made that the land owners or operators would preserve the conservation structures together with production systems on this land. Within a very short span, the land that had formerly been set aside in the soil bank program with an intention of conserving soil was being once again reduced in value through soil erosion (Ted & Silvana 86).
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David, J. Wishart. “Soil Bank” Encyclopedia of the Great Plains, New York: U Nebraska Press, 2004. Web.
Outlaw, Joel. &, Klose, Steven. “Supply Management”. 2009. Web.
Real Estate Dictionary. “Soil Bank”. 2004. Web.
Ted, L. &, Silvana, M. “Soil conservation policies and programs: Successes and Failures”. New York: CRC Press, ISBN 0 – 8493 – 0005 – 3, 2000. Web.
Willard W. Cochrane &, Mary Ellen Ryan. “American farm policy, 1948 – 1973.” 1975, Burns & MacEachern Limited, Canada. ISBN 0 – 8166 – 0783 – 4. Web.