Date of Original Version
Tenants and part-owners are farming an increasing number of acres in the United States, while full-owners are farming fewer acres. This shift in ownership is a potential cause for concern because some previous research indicated that tenant and part-owner farmers were less likely to adopt conservation practices than farmers who owned the land they farmed. If that trend persists, ownership changes would signal a national drop in conservation adoption. Here we examine this issue using a survey of agricultural operators in the Clear Creek watershed in Iowa, a state with intensive agricultural production. We compare adoption of conservation practices, and preferences for conservation information sources and communication channels, between farmers who rent some portion of the land they farm (tenants and part-owners) and farmers who own all of the land they farm (full-owners). We find that renters are more likely to practice conservation tillage than full-owners, though they are less likely to rotate crops. In addition, renters report using federal government employees (specifically, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency) as their primary sources of conservation information, while full-owners most frequently rely on neighbors, friends, and County Extension. These findings are significant for conservation policy because, unlike some past research, they indicate that renters are not resistant to all types of conservation practices, echoing recent studies finding an increase in conservation adoption among non-full-owners. Our results emphasize the importance of government conservation communication and can inform outreach efforts by helping tailor effective, targeted conservation strategies for owners and renters.
Varble, S., Secchi, S., Druschke, C. G. (2016). An Examination of Growing Trends in Land Tenure and Conservation Practice Adoption: Results from a Farmer Survey in Iowa. Environmental Management, 57(2), 318-330.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-015-0619-5
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