U.S. agriculture, which has developed in a mixed environment of private initiative and government support, is very successful by many measures. American farmers produce record levels of food and fiber per farm worker at very low budgetary cost to consumers. Recently, however, concern about resource depletion and agrichemical pollution has caused critics to question the environmental sustainability of the agricultural production system. Furthermore, pressures to trim the growing contribution of agricultural subsidies to the national budget deficit have led legislators and others to question the sustainability of the federal farm programs. Low agrichemical input or sustainable agricultural practices, such as nitrogen-fixing legumes in rotation with cereals, could reduce environmental damage. The selectivity and structure of historical farm programs, however, have economically favored conventional systems. Farm programs subsidize only about half the total value of agricultural products. Feed and food grains, cotton, and dairy products receive the lion's share of payments. Soil-building crops like forage legumes, most edible legumes, hay, and pasture are excluded. Secondly, the structure of commodity programs favors intensive production of program crops supported by high fertilizer and pesticide applications. This incentive emanates from the policy of computing the farm-wide deficiency payment for a program crop proportionately to the farm's historical “base” acreage and “established” yield for the crop. The leading farm program crops of corn, wheat, cotton, and soybeans occupied slightly over 60 percent of cropped acres and received at least 65 percent of all U.S. agricultural pesticides and fertilizer in the mid 19809s. Despite budget pressures and environmental concerns, near term termination of farm programs or decoupling them from production of particular commodities is unlikely. Fears about aggravating financial stress, reducing land values, and harming agrichemical supply businesses in program crop-growing regions will promote cautious incremental change. Recent promising signs of “creeping decoupling” include the 1986 freeze on established yields, the gradual reduction in target prices, the permitting of multi-year grass or legume plantings as set aside acreage, and the loosening of base acreage restrictions within the 1988 Drought Relief Bill.