Farmer support for extending Conservation Compliance beyond soil erosion: Evidence from Iowa
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Conservation Compliance, which since its inception in 1985 has led to substantial reductions in soil erosion by linking eligibility for some Farm Bill programs to erosion control on highly erodible land, is at a critical juncture. Agricultural economic and budget factors have reduced the effectiveness of compliance incentives, and numerous groups are calling for enhancement of incentives and/or for extension of compliance beyond erosion control to cover concerns such as water quality impairment. This study analyzed survey data measuring Iowa farmers' support for four increasingly stringent Conservation Compliance scenarios ranging from the current configuration to a requirement that all farmers control nutrient runoff regardless of participation in Farm Bill programs. Overall, the results indicate that Iowa farmers have a generally positive view of Conservation Compliance policy, both as currently configured and in potentially more stringent and extensive forms. Farmers with stronger conservationist identities and attitudes were more likely to endorse increasing the scope and stringency of Conservation Compliance, while farmers who expressed greater levels of concern about the property rights implications of government intervention and those with more productivist orientations were less likely to support such policy changes. Taken as a whole, the results suggest that most Iowa farmers think that Conservation Compliance is a good idea, should be continued, and should be extended to more farmers and other resource concerns.
This article is published as Arbuckle, J. Gordon. "Farmer support for extending Conservation Compliance beyond soil erosion: Evidence from Iowa." Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 68, no. 2 (2013): 99-109. doi: 10.2489/jswc.68.2.99. Posted with permission.