Landowner Conservation Attitudes and Behaviors in the Prairie Pothole Region

Long-term and widespread wetlands conservation within agricultural working lands remains tenable. There exists a need to identify alternative options for incentivizing wetland maintenance on private property. The objective of this research is to facilitate development of viable options by developing an understanding of how landowners view conservation, including that specifically targeted towards maintenance of wetlands, and what influences their decision regarding conservation program participation. Landowners in the five-state Prairie Pothole Region were surveyed. Most landowners supported use of incentives for wetlands conservation. Fewer supported the options of incentivized regulation, easements, and regulation. Landowners identified contract attributes including payment level and guaranteed source of income as important in their decision-making regarding conservation program participation. Effect of program participation on soil quality and erosion control were also considered important. Other program attribute and external effect factors were of moderate importance, and impact on neighboring properties was not considered important. Revealed decision criteria differed between groups defined by operation as including livestock, residence as on-farm, gender, previous or current participation in the Conservation Reserve Program, and support of various policy options for wetlands conservation. Attitudinal questions revealed that landowners in general agreed that they should be consulted on wetlands programs, promoting healthy ecosystems is a landowner’s responsibility, and landowners have the right to decide land use, should be compensated for land use choices that benefit the environment, including for maintenance of wetlands, and should be able to farm wetlands. They agreed that wetlands are important for wildlife and their conservation is important, although agreement that it is important to protect wetlands on private and public lands and especially that small wetlands benefit their operations tended toward neutral. Landowners were neutral on whether current conservation programs are effective and there should be regulations to control the conversion of naturally-occurring wetlands on agricultural land. Landowners with a CRP contract history were more supportive of the role of and need to protect wetlands, and had a lower level of agreement that decisions on land use are their right and that landowners should be able to farm their wetlands than those without. Members of general and crop-specific farm organizations were more strongly in agreement with landowners’ rights than non-members and less supportive of the role of wetlands and the need and policy tools to protect them. Members of Farmers Union and three crop commodity organizations also more strongly agreed that farmers should receive compensation when land use choices benefit the environment than non-members. Alternatively, conservation organization member agreement was higher than that of non-members that small wetlands benefit their operations, that it is important to protect wetlands, and that conservation of wetlands is important, and was lower for statements reflecting landowner rights.

Issue Date:
Jan 01 2018
Publication Type:
Total Pages:
Series Statement:
Agribusiness & Applied Economics No. 781

 Record created 2018-02-06, last modified 2018-02-07

Download fulltext

Rate this document:

Rate this document:
(Not yet reviewed)