This National Water Quality Inventory: 2004 Report to Congress, prepared under section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act, summarizes water quality reports submitted electronically by 44 states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the 2004 reporting cycle. These state water quality assessment findings are contained in EPA’s Water Quality Assessment and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Information database and website, known as ATTAINS (Assessment TMDL Tracking And ImplementatioN System), for the 2004 reporting cycle. Read more..
"U.S. EPA's 2008 Report on the Environment (Final Report)" by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, May 2008 *New
The Environmental Protection Agency's 2008 Report on the Environment, also referred to as the EPA 2008 ROE, provides the American people with an important resource from which they can better understand trends in the condition of the air, water, land, and human health of the United States. This report uses scientifically sound measures, called indicators, to address fundamental questions relevant to the EPA’s mission to protect the environment and human health. Read more..
"Expanding the USDA NRCS Conservation Delivery System by using Agricultural Professionals to Assess the Production and Natural Resources" by AG Resource Strageties, LLC July 23, 2008
Several efforts in the past three years, including a USDA CIG project awarded to the Minnesota Project,have provided insight on how a skilled agricultural workforce could address, in part, the human resource issues and incorporate a higher level of resource management on our nation’s farms. In summary, it was concluded that agricultural professionals can relatively quickly develop the skills to assess resources. Their existing on-the-ground presence, their thorough understanding of cropping systems and their trusted, financial relationship with producers makes them ideal candidates to learn resource assessment skills. Read more..
"Review of literature on economics and policy of carbon sequestration in agricultural soils" by Dean A. Bangsund and F. Larry Leistritz August 29, 2007
The purpose of this paper is to identify and describe key economic and policy-related issues with regard to terrestrial C sequestration and provide an overview of the economics of C sequestration on agricultural soils in the USA. The likely economic potential of agriculture to store soil C appears to be considerably less than the technical potential. Terrestrial C sequestration is a readily implementable option for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and can provide mitigation comparable in cost to current abatement options in other industries. Despite considerable research to date, many aspects of terrestrial C sequestration in the USA are not well understood. Read more..
Can a single program support farm income and encourage producers to adopt environmentally sound farming practices? While simple in concept, attempting to roll the farm income support features of existing commodity programs and conservation payments into single program raises questions. Exactly how would farm commodity and conservation
Sustainable management" means managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural wellbeing and for their health and safety while — (a) Sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources. Read more..
"Green Subsidies in Agriculture: Estimating the Adoption Costs of Conservation Tillage from Observed Behavior" 2006
by Kurkalova, Lyubov; Kling, Catherine; Zhao, Jinhua; Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics v. 54 no. 2 (June 2006) p. 247-67
From 1985 to 2002, most Federal conservation dollars going to farm operators have been to retire land from crop production. Yet most U.S. farmland (850 million acres) remains in active production. The Farm Security and Rural Investment (FSRI) Act of 2002 sharply increased conservation funding and earmarked most of the increase for working-land payment programs (WLPPs). The design and implementation of WLPPs will largely determine the extent to which environmental goals are achieved and whether they are cost effective. We simulate potential environmental gains as well as adjustments in agricultural production, price, and income associated with various WLPP features to illustrate tradeoffs arising from WLPP design and implementation. Read more..
The development of accurate non-point source pollution assessment technologies allows the implementation of more efficient policies than can be undertaken in their absence. This study estimates the value of accurate measurement technology by estimating the gains from implementing a more efficient policy, one that targets agricultural non-point source emission reductions at the field scale but requires accurate field scale measurement technology, relative to a practice-based policy that can be implemented in the absence of such technology. For the environmental benefit of carbon sequestration, large cost savings are found due to improved targeting of conservation tillage subsidies for the state of Iowa. The ability of the government to cost discriminate is found to have little impact on the value of accurate measurement technology. Read more..
Recognizing the potential negative impact that some farming practices (excess fertilization and manure, for example) can have on our Nation’s natural resources, policymakers have been devoting more attention and funding to conservation policies and programs. From the mid-1980s until 2002, the bulk of USDA conservation funds went toward land retirement: paying farmers to remove environmentally sensitive land from crop production for a time period specified under contract. As of February 2006, almost 36 million acres were retired from crop production—about 10 percent of U.S. cropland. Read more..
The analysis finds EQIP will have a beneficial impact on the adoption of conservation practices and, when installed or applied according to technical standards, will achieve economic and environmental gains. In addition, benefits would accrue to society for long-term productivity maintenance of the resource base, reductions in non-point source pollution damage, and wildlife enhancements. As a voluntary program, EQIP will not impose any obligation or burden upon agricultural producers that choose not to participate. Read more..
In order to make economically efficient decisions about water quality improvements, data on both the costs and benefits of these improvements is needed. However, there has been little research on the benefits of reducing phosphorus pollution which implies that policy decisions are not able to make the comparison of costs and benefits that is essential for economic efficiency. This research attempts to ameliorate this situation by providing an estimate of the benefits of a 40 percent reduction in phosphorus pollution in the Minnesota River. A 1997 mail survey gathered information on Minnesota residents'use of a recreational site on the Minnesota River, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and their willingness to pay for phosphorus reductions in the Minnesota River. The random effects probit model used in this research to investigate household willingness to pay for phosphorus pollution reductions in the Minnesota River incorporates recent innovations in nonmarket valuation methodology by using both revealed and stated preference data. This model estimated annual household willingness to pay for phosphorus reductions in the Minnesota River at $140. These results may be used in combination with cost estimates to determine the economic efficiency of phosphorus clean up. Read more..
For the last few decades, agricultural pollution has been the primary cause of water quality problems in the United States. Moreover, agricultural run-off continues to decimate ecosystems that provide habitat for some of our nation's most endangered and treasured creatures. The task of controlling agricultural pollution, however, is caught in a regulatory stalemate. The commonly-accepted method for controlling nonpoint source pollution - voluntary adoption of "Best Management Practices" or BMPs - has predictably achieved minimal success, particularly in areas where pollution control expenses are significant. Read more..
A timely literature on the design of economic incentives for nonpoint pollution control has been emerging. We describe the nonpoint pollution control problem, some of the peculiar challenges it poses for policy design, and the policy?related contributions of the theoretical and empirical literature on the economics of nonpoint pollution. Read more..
"Environmental Policies for Agricultural Pollution Control" by James S. Shortle, David Gerrard Abler 2001
Explores the economic dimensions of designing and evaluating water pollution control policies for agriculture. The seven papers describe theoretical and empirical research on policy design, methods for policy evaluation, the policy experiences of various countries, and linkages between agricultural trade and the environment. The contributors consider whom strategies should target, how to induce changes in their behavior, and how to measure compliance. Annotation c. Book News, Inc. Read more..
Agri-environmental policy is at a crossroads. Over the past 20 years, a wide range of policies addressing the environmental implications of agricultural production have been implemented at the Federal level. Those policies have played an important role in reducing soil erosion, protecting and restoring wetlands, and creating wildlife habitat. However, emerging agri-environmental issues, evolution of farm income support policies, and limits imposed by trade agreements may point toward a rethinking of agri-environmental policy. Read more..
Enforceable standards play a crucial role in the design and implementation of most water quality policies. The impacts of these standards on farm income and nonpoint source (NPS) pollution can provide valuable information to develop economic policies that can improve water quality with minimal loss in income and minimal risk. This study uses an integration of nonlinear programming and a simulation model to assess the impacts of enforceable standards at technology and farm boundary levels. The results indicate that the type of pollutant regulated, enforcement type, and the level of standard had a significant impact on farm income and water quality. Choice of farm boundary standards over technology standards is dependent on the impact of the policy on other NPS pollutants, in addition to the reduction of nitrate and phosphorus pollutants. Enforcing farm boundary standards on nitrates had desirable effects on subsurface and percolate nitrogen and variance in income. Technology standards were uncertain in their effects because of the restriction on the choice of technologies available to farmers. A comparative policy analysis considering incentives, multiple impacts, transaction costs of implementation, and regional consideration is important to an effective policy design. Read more..
Water quality is a major environmental issue. Pollution from nonpoint sources is the single largest remaining source of water quality impairments in the United States. Agriculture is a major source of several nonpoint-source pollutants, including nutrients, sediment, pesticides, and salts. Agricultural nonpoint pollution reduction policies can be designed to induce producers to change their production practices in ways that improve the environmental and related economic consequences of production. Read more..
The range of environmental problems confronting agriculture has expanded in
Flexible Incentives for the Adoption of Environmental Technologies in Agriculture identifies and structures more flexible economic incentives for the achievement of environmental goals in agriculture. Read more..
Two decades ago, the nation embarked on an ambitious agenda to restore the quality of water in rivers, lakes, and coastal waters to robust -- if not pristine -- condition. To date, although considerable improvements in water quality have been achieved, one category of pollution sources continues to cause severe damage to aquatic species nationwide. These "nonpoint" pollution sources (which include the runoff from farming, logging, mining operations, urban areas, and so on) have been considered too unmanageable to regulate directly. As a result, nonpoint sources are now the leading cause of water pollution nationwide. Among these, agricultural runoff is the largest single contributor. Read more..