Here are a few opinions by Tony Dean about the impact of CRP on rural towns in the Dakotas - from Tony's website.
"There are some who suggest the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and low commodity prices as well as government land purchases has resulted in a lot of prime farmland being taken out of production as the reason for small town woes. But though that might sound popular in some areas, and is frequently the ugly rhetoric of anti-government groups, it has no basis in fact. If commodity prices were to triple tomorrow or if the CRP program ended, it would mean little to Souris, Westhope or Kramer. The real problem they face is not enough customers to support their local businesses. Viewed from that perspective, you can more easily understand why small towns welcome visiting hunters and even encourage the occasional commercialization that it often brings.
Two years ago, a Twin Cities-based rural development expert offered a view of what life could be like in the Dakotas over the next few decades. Speaking at a rural development conference in Kansas City, Karl Stauber predicted we could become a playground for the wealthy populated by a few, with those remaining divided between a few wealthy landowners and a larger poor class that would serve both. He said rural development efforts that merely distribute payments to a declining number of producers won't help struggling small, rural communities.
Nor are the Dakotas the exception in rural America. The headline on a recent editorial in the Des Moines, IA Register read, "The 160-Acre Farm Isn't Coming Back."
If current trends continue, those who live in the Dakotas primarily because of the high quality of outdoor recreation, stand to lose the most. Increasing fee hunting services already have state governments scrambling to provide public recreational land. However many ag organizations oppose fee title purchases and say instead, the state should lease the land. But what does the state have after a decade of leasing but a pile of rent receipts? Is this really a wise use of taxpayer or license dollars? Would it not be better to buy it now while land is still affordable?"