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Reaganomics is being applied to the -nation's cropland. One result: an administration plan to -replace federal soil conservation programs with block grants to the states. In -announcing the switch, Secretary of -Agriculture John Block noted that erosion is an increasingly serious national problem; but he said states are best suited to target limited funds on the most seriously affected areas.

Currently the US is losing a yearly average of 12 tons of soil per cropland acre. At that rate, specialists say, the nation risks turning large chunks of land into ''virtual desert.''

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Natural Resources Defense Council staffer Thomas Barlow argues that better tillage practices could cut erosion nationwide at little cost either to farmers or taxpayers - if the government provides farm price-support payments only to farmers who voluntarily switch to new soil-conservation techniques.

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