Agricultural practices continue to degrade water quality and ecosystems worldwide. In the United States, programs like the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) target the voluntary adoption of agricultural best management practices (BMPs). Demand for these programs has historically exceeded available funding, so allocating funding to achieve the greatest environmental outcome is essential. In recent years, economists have argued that market mechanisms should be incorporated within government programs to improve their cost-effectiveness. This article presents the results of a reverse auction to allocate funding to reduce phosphorus losses from farms, and compares the results with EQIP funded contracts in the same watershed.


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