Avoiding Loss of Agricultural Subsidies: Swampbuster

  • L. Leon Geyer
  • Dan Lawler
Reference work entry


Throughout past centuries, wetland loss has developed into a serious issue that carries profound environmental, economic, and political implications in the United States. The lower 48 states have lost an estimated 53% of their original wetlands over the last 200 years, largely because the United States’ agricultural sector has grown and developed, a profound amount of wetlands have been converted into cropland in order to capitalize on their fertile, nutrient-rich soils. This diminishes the capacity of ecosystems to generate a wealth of beneficial services. Historically, economic incentives embodied in agricultural statutes have influenced wetland decline by increasing short-term profitability. To reverse this trend, efforts to protect wetlands were implemented through the Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Compliance provisions – widely known as “Swampbuster” – as a part of the 1985 US Food Security Act. Along with key amendments in the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990, the statute encourages crop producers to conserve wetlands through financial incentives, substantially changing the working relationship between farmers and their lands. In order to effectively display how the loss of agricultural subsidies relates to wetlands, this chapter will detail specific Swampbuster provisions, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and discuss future challenges that affect Swampbuster’s role in environment, agriculture, and politics.


Wetlands Swampbuster Agricultural program benefits Agricultural subsidies 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Applied EconomicsVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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