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Participation in Conservation Programs by Targeted Farmers: Beginning, Limited-Resource, and Socially Disadvantaged Operators' Enrollment Trends

by Cynthia Nickerson and Michael S. Hand

Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-62) 41 pp, December 2009

Cover image from eib62 Beginning, limited-resource, and socially disadvantaged farmers make up as much as 40 percent of all U.S. farms. Some Federal conservation programs contain provisions that encourage participation by such “targeted” farmers and the 2008 Farm Act furthered these efforts. This report compares the natural resource characteristics, resource issues, and conservation treatment costs on farms operated by targeted farmers with those of other participants in the largest U.S. working-lands and land retirement conservation programs. Some evidence shows that targeted farmers tend to operate more environmentally sensitive land than other farmers, have different conservation priorities, and receive different levels of payments. Data limitations preclude a definitive analysis of whether efforts to improve participation by targeted farmers hinders or enhances the conservation programs’ ability to deliver environmental benefits cost effectively. But the different conservation priorities among types of farmers suggest that if a significantly larger proportion of targeted farmers participates in these programs, the programs’ economic and environmental outcomes could change.

Keywords: Conservation programs, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), beginning farmers, limited-resource producers, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers

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Last updated: Saturday, May 26, 2012

For more information contact: Cynthia Nickerson and Michael S. Hand