The future of conservation programs will be decided in the next Farm Bill and a group of economists is offering advice to policymakers.
The Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (C-FARE) has released a series of papers called The Conservation Crossroads in Agriculture dealing with several areas of concern.
Designing the biggest benefits for conservation in the most cost efficient way and maintaining the viability of the Conservation Reserve Program are among them.
Katherine Smith, former USDA Economic Research Service Administrator and vice president of American Farmland Trust, says there is a lot of literature on the CRP and how well it has worked.
“It is certain that the CRP has had private, community and social benefits that outweigh its costs to taxpayers,” Smith tells reporters.
Otto Doering Purdue professor of Ag Economics says a key to the success is the incentive portion of the program.
Doering says, “What you’re talking about is to align incentives with the things that will be most effective and most cost-efficient.”
Smith says a reduction in the amount of land in the CRP, as proposed in the Senate Farm Bill, will result in significant losses in environmental benefits of the current program.
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