The Costs and Benefits of Conservation Practices in Iowa
Over the last two decades, conservation on cropland to improve water quality and provide other environmental benefi ts has been of growing interest. Federal government expenditures on conservation and environmental programs have been 80 percent higher under the current (2002) farm act than under the previous one, and several new programs, including the Conservation Security Program and the Grassland Reserve Program, were also introduced in 2002. As the expiration date for the current act draws near, it is apparent that the total expenditures and priorities of conservation programs will again be at the heart of legislative debates. The likelihood of tight fi scal budgets over the coming years suggests that competition for federal funding of conservation programs will be at least as intense as in the past. Hard questions concerning the impacts of these programs on water quality and the environment will need to be answered if such funding is to be maintained or increased. However, there are currently no easy and clear answers to these questions.