Institutional Dimensions of Farmland Conservation: Applying the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) Framework to the U.S. Conservation Reserve Program
AbstractThe Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) invites agricultural producers in the U.S. to voluntarily place land into conservation for 10 to 15 years. The program currently focuses on reducing soil erosion, increasing soil health, providing wildlife habitat, and improving water quality throughout the United States. This study employs a theoretical framework for the understanding of collective action institutions (sets of rules prohibiting, requiring, or permitting specified actions that are established to overcome common problems) in order to examine the external factors, internal structures, and policy decisions of CRP and the impacts these variables have on program outcomes. We collected the data using open-ended, structured interviews with stakeholders associated with the program, and from government documents produced on the CRP by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other local, state, and federal agencies. Results indicate that the biophysical environment, local culture, and institutional rules greatly contribute to program implementation (resources for conservation, decision-making structures, and management strategies) and outcomes (amount and type of land conserved, and level of participation by agricultural landowners).
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