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Landowner valuation of a working wetlands program in the Prairie Pothole Region

Cheryl Wachenheim (), Siew Hoon Lim, David Roberts () and John Devney

Agricultural Economics, 2019, vol. 50, issue 4, 465-478

Abstract: Wetlands conservation within agricultural working lands is currently incentivized by land retirement programs and farm program eligibility criteria. Private ownership of the majority of agricultural lands within which these wetlands reside and growing opportunity costs facing landowners put wetlands at risk and motivate consideration of alternative policy options. A choice experiment was used to estimate likelihood of enrollment in a hypothetical working wetlands program. Landowners preferred shorter contract lengths, higher rental rates, midterm adjustment rather than a fixed‐rate contract, the right to conduct managed burning on their lands‐containing program wetlands, and no conservation practice requirement. Landowners with higher expressed valuation of conservation and who favor protecting wetlands, believe that small wetlands are important for their farms, who would not drain any of their wetlands, and raise ruminant animals are more inclined to participate in the program. Recommendations include consideration of program targeting during program design, practicing creative thought regarding program promotion, and exploration of no‐loss wetlands solutions, especially those market based.

Date: 2019
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