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Why Farmland Conservation Efforts May Not Be Growing

AAEA members launch new project with “direct impact on the environment”

In the ongoing and urgent effort to protect the environment, there are dozens of programs to assist with conservation projects that help both farmers and the land.

Right now the largest of those efforts is the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), with more than 70 million acres of U.S. farmland involved in conservation plans. While that number may seem high, many experts say that isn’t enough – and there may be a simple reason why.

40 percent of privately-owned farmland in the U.S. is leased and managed by someone other than the landowner. On the flip side, many producers have multiple owners of the land they farm.

“In order to participate (in the CSP) you have to enroll your entire farm,” says Simanti Banerjee of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “Imagine if your farm was owned by ten people. If you have one owner hold out you couldn’t participate.”

Banerjee, along with Mykel Taylor of Kansas State University and Leah Palm-Forster of the University of Delaware, are working on a new study, recently backed by the USDA, to find ways to get more farmers and farmland involved in the program.

“This has a direct impact on the environment,” Palm-Forster said. “If you want to address problems like nutrient runoff and soil erosion we need to find ways to make these types of programs attractive to farmers.”

If you are interested in learning more about this groundbreaking project, and setting up an interview, please contact Jay Saunders in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 20 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit

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