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Land Use and Emerging Policy Challenges
Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022
3:45 PM - 5:45 PM (EST)
Agricultural and Applied Economics Association & Agricultural and Applied Economics Association
Chair: Hongli Feng,
Michigan State University
Land Use and Water Quality Impacts of Expanding the Conservation Reserve Program: An Analysis of Rejected CRP Offers
The USDA spends about 2 billion dollars each year on the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which pays farmers to temporarily retire cropland. The program aims to reduce soil erosion, increase wildlife habitat, improve water and air quality, and sequester carbon. If program managers consider enrolling more land in CRP, it will be important to understand the degree to which program objectives could be obtained. In this study, we assess the potential land use and water quality impacts of a marginal expansion in the general signup CRP. We first observe actual field-level land use decisions of farmers whose offers are rejected from the CRP and compare them with proposed land use decisions from their rejected offers. Second, we determine the water quality impacts of an expansion of the program. To do this, we use process-based water quality simulations of the actual and proposed land use decisions.
Unconventional Oil and Gas Development and Agricultural Land-Use
The growth in unconventional oil and gas (UOG) production and associated infrastructure have had significant impact on local incomes, employment, and land use. We examine the effect of regional (UOG) development on agricultural production acreage in the US using county scale data from 1997 to 2018. The results show that the effect has been heterogenous across major shale regions. In the region that includes Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Permian, and Anadarko, we find an inverted U-shaped relationship between the number of UOG wells and crop acreage. On the other hand, in the region consisting of Bakken and Niobrara shale plays the relationship is U-shaped. In Appalachian counties with UOG each additional unconventional well has decrease crop acreage by 6 on average.
Analysis of Near-Term National Sustainability and Climate Policy Ambitions on Land-Use Projections in the United States
The US federal government recently announced ambitious programs and targets with a focus on sustainability and climate change mitigation in the land use sectors. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Innovation Initiative aims to increase agricultural productivity by 40%, reduce food waste by 50%, reduce nutrient loss to runoff by 30%, reduce carbon emissions, and increase biofuel and biomass production. It is unknown whether these targets can be achieved simultaneously and how they may interact with other potential changes to the land sector related to re-joining the Paris Agreement, protecting 30% of US lands and waters by 2030 (a presidential executive order), and shifting dietary demand (as per the USDA's healthy dietary guidelines). This study examines national-level impacts and trade-offs of meeting multiple official federal targets and programs using an integrated land use model of the U.S. and global land use systems. The modelling framework estimates national-scale agricultural production, diets, land-use, carbon emissions and sequestration, and availability of land supporting biodiversity under varying national policy and productivity assumptions. We measure the trade-offs between, and contributions of, the proposed targets towards meeting national and international goals for bioenergy production, conservation, and climate while meeting domestic food requirements. We examine the impact of policy targets on markets and land use in isolation and in combination. We find that many of the land-use related targets are complementary, for example, by increasing agricultural productivity and reducing food waste, an additional 30% of land is available for biodiversity conservation. Healthier diets reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector while allowing more land to be made available for protection, reforestation, and bioenergy production, which all have further climate benefits. Results suggest that sustainability targets in the land-use and food sectors are highly synergistic and that coordinated design and implementation of policies would maximize co-benefits.
Grassland Easement Acquisition: Conversion Hazard Rate, Additionality, and Spatial Spillover
Grassland ecosystems exist naturally on all continents except Antarctica and human impacts have put many grassland ecosystems at risk. Grassland protection has attracted much attention as numerous conservation programs have been developed and significant investments have been directed at grassland conservation. Easement contracts can be a means of precisely attenuating property rights through consensual and fair exchange. However, high crop returns over the past 15 years have imposed substantial financial pressures on easement acquisition. Therefore, easement evaluation and acquisition have attracted increasing attention. This study first develops a theoretical model that derives the optimal easement acquisition strategy, accounting for conversion hazard rate, additionality, and spatial spillover. With focus on the Northern Plains Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), we calibrate the model based on various data sources and then conduct numerical simulation to examine the efficiency of various easement acquisition targeting strategies. We find that in the optimal solution “additionality with spatial spillover targeting” outperforms “additionality targeting”, which outperforms “basic targeting” in terms of securing environmental benefits for a fixed budget. However, this order of dominance may not hold under heuristic algorithms.