The Impact of Farmland Preservation Programs

EPA Grant Number: R826617
Title: The Impact of Farmland Preservation Programs
Investigators: Bockstael, Nancy , Nickerson, Cynthia J.
Institution: University of Maryland - College Park
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: October 1, 1998 through September 30, 1999
Project Amount: $80,860
RFA: Decision-Making and Valuation for Environmental Policy (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice


Ecosystem health and environmental quality depend in large part on the pattern of land use. Farmland preservation is one policy instrument that seeks directly to control that pattern. The objective of this study is to develop a clear understanding of landowners' farmland preservation behavior. The profusion of farmland preservation programs in MD has set the stage for an experiment that allows us to test how different features of such programs affect different landowners' decisions to sell development rights. Specifically, our objective is to determine the probability that a given landowner will participate in a particular farmland preservation program, and also to determine the factors that influence the timing of a landowner's decision. A second objective of this research is to combine the results of what we learn about landowner preservation behavior with our other ongoing research. This will enable us to derive broader conclusions about the effects of farmland preservation programs on land use patterns over time, and the environmental consequences of such public policy mechanisms.


The research approach involves constructing models of the preservation decision, that incorporate specifically factors that vary with different preservation programs. We will consider first static discrete choice models, but will generalize to duration models that will help us model the "survival" time until a parcel either becomes developed or is preserved. Very specific micro-level, spatial data exists on the location of agricultural parcels, and specifically on those that have been preserved. Additional spatial data that allows us to predict the value of the parcel in various uses and to calculate or estimate the prices that would likely be offered for development rights are also available.

Expected Results:

We expect this research to allow us to identify what features of farmland preservation programs increase the likelihood that a landowner will participate. We can use this information to assess whether changing certain program features would result in participation by more or fewer landowners of different types. Given existing program features, we also expect to be able to identify the spatial pattern of preservation that is likely to result. We anticipate combining the results from this research with ecological indicators that describe the potential effects on environmental quality of any given pattern of land use. Improvements in Risk Assessment/Management: Results from this study can help us determine the environmental consequences of permanent farmland preservation programs, including their potential for reducing pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

agriculture, public policy, decision making, socio-economic, economics, behavioral modeling, spatial analysis, GIS, Mid-Atlantic, Maryland, MD, ecological effects, RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, State, decision-making, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Economics & Decision Making, Social Science, ecosystem valuation, social impact analysis, static dicrete choice models, decision analysis, farmland preservation programs, incentives, landowner behavior, conservation, environmental values, environmental policy, Maryland (MD), land development rights, agriculture, GIS, public values, public policy, land use, benefits assessment

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report