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Agricultural Best Management Practices

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Project Summary: 

This project examines the conservation practices of farmers in two Florida watersheds, the Middle Suwannee River and the Everglades Agricultural Area. Suwannee River policies encourage voluntary best management practices, while the Everglades requires all farms to implement BMP. A particular emphasis of the project is the development and role of trust in facilitating cooperation.

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One of the most important conflicts in water policy in the United States and elsewhere is the issue of non-point source pollution from agriculture. One common approach to this conflict is some type of collaborative watershed management institution that encourages farmers to monitor water on their farms and adopt best management practices. The success of watershed management depends on farmer cooperation with the various watershed management activities. The Russell Sage grant posted below examines the interaction between trust, beliefs, and institutions as motivators of farmer participation. There are also links to two papers that report results of the pilot study in the Middle Suwannee River in Florida. An expansion of the research project to California is currently underway, and is described in more detail below.

California Water Quality and Policy: A Survey of Agriculture’s Opinions

The California Water Quality survey is being designed to assess farmers’ opinions of water quality and policy issues in the Northern Sacramento River watershed. In particular, the survey focuses on farmers’ participation in the Coalition Groups associated with the new Agricultural Waivers created by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. The new Waiver policy requires individual farmers to either join a Coalition Group or apply for an Individual Waste Discharge permit. The Coalition Groups must submit a water quality management plan that includes a monitoring program and strategies for addressing any non-point source pollution problems through the implementation of agricultural best management practices and other pollution control mechanisms.

The Coalition Groups are an attempt to use the concept of “collaborative policy” to address non-point source pollution in the Sacramento River Valley. The success of Coalition Groups depends on farmers’ participation and knowledge, and the survey is designed to identify the most important factors affecting farmers’ decisions about the Coalition Groups. The “Invitation to Collaborative Research” available at the link below summarizes many details of the study. The survey is scheduled for Winter 2004.

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ResearchInvitationOctober2003.pdf37.62 KB
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