Date of Graduation
Population growth, combined with economic growth have been primary causes of urban sprawl and increased pressure on natural resources. Urban development often adversely affects land, water and air quality. Although not considered a threat to the nation's food production, land development and urbanization are critical issues because they can lead to fragmentation of agricultural and forest lands, loss of prime farmland, wildlife habitat and other resources, additional infrastructure costs for communities and regional authorities, and competition for water. These losses raise concerns about sustainability of land and agriculture. Various state-sponsored programs such as Purchase of Developmental Rights and Transfer of Developmental Rights have been implemented to protect prime farmland. Federal programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) have been instituted to improve agricultural land quality. Since its inception in 1987, the goals of the CRP have expanded from reducing erosion to include several other objectives such as recreation and wildlife habitat, open space benefits and other landscape amenities. Therefore, CRP helps in achieving both social objectives of farmland preservation and agricultural pollution mitigation. Knowledge about factors influencing CRP enrollments provides insights into sustainability aspects of land use in the region. The general objective of the research was to understand the relationships among land use, environmental quality, and public policy, and to examine the resulting implications for agricultural sustainability. The CRP participation decision was viewed as a dichotomous choice problem. A grouped logit method using a chi-square estimation process was used to estimate the parameters. In addition to the immediate farm characteristics, spatial influences were incorporated through a gravity approach. The Mid-Atlantic region of the United States (Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and West Virginia) was the study area. County-level data from nationally available databases such as the National Resource Inventory, Census of Agriculture, National Resources Conservation Service, and the National Agricultural Statistical Service crop production statistics and other census data were used for empirical analysis. Results showed that statistically significant differences existed between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas regarding the factors influencing CRP participation. Agricultural factors had a more important role in CRP enrollment decisions in non-metropolitan areas as compared to metropolitan areas. Previous enrollments had a positive, significant influence on current enrollments in both areas. Land values and capital gains also had a highly significant negative influence on enrollment decisions. Locational characteristics, mainly, urban influences played an important role in CRP enrollments. The Urban Influence Potential (UIP) index (based on the gravity approach) had a significant negative influence on enrollments. Even though agricultural factors (such as agricultural returns, and dairy farming) and developmental factors (such as land values, and UIP) had negative influences on enrollment decisions, the implications for sustainability differ widely. Agricultural factors have positive implications for agricultural sustainability whereas developmental factors have negative implications.
Bendapudi, Ramkumar, "Land use, environmental quality and public policy: Interactions and implications for agricultural sustainability." (2002). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8470.