I reexamined five previously published studies that compared the economics of high input conventional crop production systems in various regions to the economics of lower input alternatives that use green manures, cover crops, and more diversified rotations, but no inorganic fertilizers and little or no synthetic pesticides. The original analyses were extended to include estimates of each production system's contribution to the local economy, both directly through farmers' payments for labor and interest, and indirectly through the payrolls and profits of enterprises serving farmers. A similar comparison was also made for high input irrigated and lower input nonirrigated corn production. On a per acre basis, the high input systems' local economic benefits were equal to or greater than those of the lower input systems. However, they were lower as a fraction of total value of production in all but one case, since production was always higher for the higher input systems. Correspondingly, with all but one of the higher input systems, a greater portion of the value of production left the local economy to pay for purchased inputs. This becomes significant if the production system is not sustainable, so that the total productive potential of the area's agricultural resources is finite when integrated over their entire economic life. In such circumstances, the results imply that under the conventional system the local economy will capture a smaller share of the total productive value of those resources.