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Natural areas; Wetlands--Economic aspects; Land use


Most Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts will expire from 1996 to 2001 , directly affecting land use of 36.4 million acres of highly erodible cropland enrolled in this land retirement program. The major objective of this study is to estimate the role of economic, management, and public policy factors on post-contract CRP land use decisions in South Dakota, a Northern Plains state with 2.1 million acres of enrolled land, 10% of the State's cropland base.

The major data source is a 1993 CRP survey sent to a random sample of 8.33 %of South Dakota CRP contract holders and completed by 556 of 1133 persons contacted. Management, socio-economic and land use data from the 1993 CRP survey are combined with their CRP contract file data from USDA. Respondents' intend to return 52 % of their CRP acres to cropland, retain 29 % in grassland, and are uncertain about post contract land use of 19 % of their CRP acres.

A logistic regression model is used to determine the relative importance of economic, public policy, and management factors on respondents post-CRP land use intentions. Economic incentives to participate in federal farm programs including a large proportion of crop base acres on CRP lands are key factors favoring a recropping decision. Land capability class, but not predicted erosion levels, was associated with recropping decisions. Management practices on other agricultural land owned or leased by CRP contract holders are other important determinants of their post-CRP land use decisions. Conservation compliance and producer use of conservation tillage will be important factors in retaining conservation benefits obtained from CRP.

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