TWEL Sarah Young Thesis

Farmer decision making and likelihood to participate in the Conservation Reserve Program

Sarah H. Young, MS
Advisor: Jeremy Bruskotter 

Thesis

Early successional habitat and grasslands declined across the United States over the last 50 years. This decline is detrimental to both plant and wildlife diversity. The trend is particularly strong throughout the Midwest. Land conservation programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), provide farmers financial incentives to engage in a specific land conservation practice for a period of 10-15 years. Programs such as the CRP can help to combat the loss of early successional habitat; however the programs are conducted via voluntary enrollment. Therefore, understanding factors influencing farmers’ decisions to enroll in the CRP, and specifically what factors could increase their willingness to enroll are important to explore. I explored farmer’s subjective norms, trust in federal agencies, risk tolerance, self-efficacy, demographic factors, and perceived costs and benefits of the program and their effect on farmer’s willingness to enroll in the CRP. A mail-back survey was administered to 6000 farmers in six counties in Ohio. Results indicate that costs and benefits, specifically perceived environmental health benefit is the most important indicator of willingness to enroll in CRP. Geographic region may also influence which factors are most indicative of overall willingness to enroll.