Farmers in several North Dakota counties have stopped plowing under one-fourth of their cropland in exchange for dependable annual payments under the conservation reserve program. Farmer Patty Hofmann said, “Cropping wheat is just very risky and expensive, and we would have lost our farm if we hadn’t signed up for the conservation program.” How well private farmland is managed in the continental U.S. will affect the survival of ducks and wildlife, the quality of drinking water, and the extent of sprawl. In the last five years, however, conservation payments have dropped from 30 percent to 9 percent of all farm subsides. Some lawmakers in the U.S. Congress will push to expand the conservation program this fall, but they will face resistance from large farms that want more money set aside for traditional subsidies.