Land Retirement as a Tool for Reducing Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution
Cropland retirement is one option for reducing agriculturally generated nonpoint source water pollution. This research estimated the welfare effects of cropland retirement in addressing U.S. surface water pollution problems. The social costs of retirement were evaluated with a programming model of the U.S. agriculture sector and were compared to the water quality benefits from reduced soil erosion. Results indicate that land retirement as a primary pollution control tool is expensive, but if appropriately targeted, could generate sufficient benefits to outweigh social costs. The paper also explores shifts in production patterns within and across regions caused by land retirement, and the implications for changes in chemical use and government deficiency payments.