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Oct 27 -- The Economic Research Service (ERS), Department of Agriculture (USDA), is proposing a new information collection to study farmers' practices and participation in cover crops, “Corn and Soybean Grower Survey.” Written comments on this notice must be received by December 26, 2023 to be assured of consideration.

The proposed data collection will survey corn and soybean farmers in the Midwestern United States to study farmers' preferences for participating in programs that support cover cropping and gather new information about current cover cropping practices. This survey sample will be drawn from Midwestern states as they represent a large majority corn and soy acreage, similar policy contexts, and potential for growth in cover crop adoption. USDA agencies are interested in supporting voluntary long-run adoption of climate smart conservation practices such as cover crops through technical assistance and financial incentives. There are multiple Federal, state, and private programs that support planting cover crops. This study is interested in Federal programs, the two largest of which are the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

The survey will use questions on contract enrollment to examine how contract flexibility, ease of applying, payments, and other aspects of cover crop contracts affect farmers' willingness to enroll their corn and soybean fields in cover crop programs. Results will be compared between farmers with no history of cover cropping in Federal programs and those who have cover cropped in Federal Programs.

Participation in the survey will be voluntary, and subjects will be recruited by mail with options to participate either online or by mail. Data will be analyzed using discrete choice models to estimate farmer preferences for cover crop contracts. Results from the survey will be used in academic and Federal research publications to provide information to stakeholders and the public regarding farmer preferences for planting cover crops and participating in cover crop programs. This work will also inform future studies on adoption of cover crops and other conservation practices.

Estimated Number of Respondents: Up to 2,250 respondents. This is based on a 15% response rate from a sample of 15,000 farmers.

FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-23755

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