Iowan’s Perspectives on Targeted Approaches for Multiple-Benefit Agriculture
More than 1,000 Iowans were surveyed to learn about their expectations for the state’s agricultural sector, their concerns about environmental quality, and their willingness to support greater public investment in policies and programs that work toward more resilient, productive agricultural landscapes that provide a range of benefi ts in addition to food, feed, and energy. Survey respondents placed high priority on improved soil and water quality, better wildlife habitat, and enhanced recreation opportunities. They privileged improvements in these outcomes over increases in crop and livestock production. While agriculture’s impacts on soil and water quality rose to the top of the list of Iowans’ environmental concerns, survey respondents also generally supported efforts to help farmers to address those issues. Two-thirds of Iowans indicated that they would support a shift to a holistic, targeted conservation approach that would minimize the negative impacts of agriculture while enhancing multiple benefi ts from agricultural landscapes. Importantly, they would be willing to pay an estimated $42 million per year over ten years to support the implementation of such an effort. Overall, the survey results offer strong evidence that most Iowans want to see improved performance of agricultural landscapes and are willing to dedicate substantial resources to enhance a range of benefi ts while helping to reduce negative impacts. The results serve to validate recent public investments such as Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy (www.nutrientstrategy.iastate.edu) and many other ongoing activities that are focused on such goals. The data suggest that Iowans would like to see much more investment, such as full implementation of the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, and further implementation of policies and programs that balance agricultural productivity and other, equally important benefi ts that agricultural landscapes can provide.