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The Farm Act's Regional Equity Provision: Impacts on Conservation Program Outcomes

by Cynthia Nickerson, Marc Ribaudo, and Nathaniel Higgins

Economic Research Report No. (ERR-98) 51 pp, June 2010

Cover Image for ERR98 The 2002 and 2008 Farm Acts increased funding for conservation programs that provide financial assistance to farmers to implement conservation practices on working farmland. Along with seeking cost-effective environmental benefits, these programs have a goal of spreading conservation funding equitably across States. The 2002 and 2008 Farm Acts strengthened this allocative goal by setting a minimum threshold for conservation funding for each State—one that exceeds historical funding for some States—for enrolling agricultural producers in specified conservation programs. This study uses conservation program data to examine evidence of the impacts of the Regional Equity provision of the 2002 Farm Act, and explores the tradeoffs that can occur among conservation program goals when legislation gives primacy to fund allocation. The study found that cross-State shifts in funding reduced the acres receiving conservation treatment for many resource problems, but increased the net economic benefits from treatments on some of them. Overall impacts on the types of producers enrolled were small.

Keywords: Working lands, conservation programs, 2008 Farm Act, Regional Equity Provision, program outcomes

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Last updated: Sunday, May 27, 2012

For more information contact: Cynthia Nickerson, Marc Ribaudo, and Nathaniel Higgins