Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands provide ecosystem service benefits that exceed land rental payment costs

Ecosystem Services
Johnson, Kris A.; Dalzell, Brent J.; Donahue, Marie; Gourevitch, Jesse; Johnson, Dennis L.; Karlovits, Greg S.; Keeler, Bonnie; Smith, Jason T.
SourceWeb of Science
Volume / Issue18
Total Pages44 pages
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Tagsagriculture; Conservation Reserve Program; ecosystem services; cost-benefit analysis; water quality; valuation
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Publication DateMarch 31, 2016
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AbstractGlobal demand for commodities prompted the expansion of row crop agriculture in the Upper Midwest, USA with unknown consequences for multiple ecosystem services. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was designed to protect these services by paying farmers to retire environmentally sensitive land. Here we assessed whether the benefits provided by CRP's targeted retirement of agricultural land are equal to or greater in value than the cost of rental payments to farmers. We quantified the benefits of CRP lands for reducing flood damages, improving water quality and air-quality, and contributing to greenhouse gas mitigation in the Indian Creek watershed in Iowa. We found that for all assessed scenarios of CRP implementation, the ecosystem service benefits provided by CRP lands exceed the cost of payments to farmers. Expanding CRP implementation under one of three potential scenarios would require an average per-acre payment of $1311 over the life of a 10-year contract but would generate benefits with a net present value of between $1710 and $6401. This analysis suggests that investment in CRP in Indian Creek, and likely in other watersheds in the Upper Midwest, is justified based upon the value of public and private benefits provided by CRP lands.
Created: 12/14/2017 10:29 AM (ET)
Modified: 1/3/2019 1:56 PM (ET)
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