Demand for energy crops also will compete for acreage. Land set aside for ethanol production and windmill farms competes for acreage with traditional food and feedgrain crops. Environmental services such as CRP and wildlife habitat will be in the mix, too. Conklin said many landowners have developed acreage into profit centers with hunting leases and other recreational activities.

“Most of that acreage will not come back into production agriculture. Water may become a more serious issue than land.

“If we have the resources to meet demand, we could see a continued decrease in the price of food. If not, we could see an increase in food costs.”

The farm bill has become a food bill with 75 percent of all funds dedicated to food stamps or child nutrition. Within the agriculture community, competition for available dollars in farm bill programs also promises to divide a diminishing funding pie into smaller and smaller slices.

Conklin said recent election results also add uncertainty to future farm bill offerings. A significant number of agriculture committee members lost their seats in the election and at least some of the freshman class will be more interested in urban issues than rural, Conklin said. Emphasis will be on reducing the deficit and the size of government. That will have an effect on the farm bill debate.