The Park Place Economist


The environmental degradation contemporary Midwestern agricultural practices cause through negative externalities are immense; these realities have led to a greater focus on the introduction of conservation practices. Such practices are sustainable both for the farm operator and the environment, allowing for increased productivity while protecting the environment from undue harm. Focusing on over a thousand counties across the 12 Midwestern states, this paper analyzes various county farm level, producer level, and information level factors that influence conservation practice adoption. Constructing Midwestern farmers as a bounded, rational actor under the bounded rationality theory, results reflect the importance of information in the adoption of these practices. Most notably, counties with a higher proportion of young producers, internet access, and farmers whose primary occupation is farming are found to be significantly more likely to adopt conservation practices. Additionally, farms with colonies of honeybees, representing environmental consciousness among farmers, are found to be significantly more likely to adopt conservation practices studied. These results indicate the need to incentivize younger Americans to work in the agricultural sector and the need to better educate farmers on the importance of environmental sustainability.