Location: 368A Heady Hall
Description: Terrance Hurley
"Will farmers grow weeds for Monarchs on the North Central U.S. farm landscape?"
Abstract: A decline in the Monarch butterfly population associated with habitat loss, as well as a range of other factors, has led to calls for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate the need to list it as a threatened or endangered species. The decline has also sparked intensified efforts into habitat restoration to mitigate or even potentially reverse the decline. The objective of this research was to evaluate farmer interest in restoring Monarch habitat on the North Central U.S. farm landscape. This objective was accomplished by randomly surveying corn, soybean and wheat farmers in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin about their cropping, crop protection, and conservation practices. They were also asked about their willingness to enroll in a hypothetical Monarch habitat restoration program designed for non-cropland. Program requirements and incentives varied randomly across the surveys in order to identify what types of program characteristics would be most attractive to farmers. On average, about half (50.2%) of the farmers indicated they would be willing to participate in a Monarch habitat restoration program, but this value varied from 28.9 to 68.1% depending on the program requirements and financial incentives. Farmers who indicated they were willing to participate were willing to enroll about 3.6 acres in the program on average, which did not vary systematically with the program requirements or financial incentives. Three additional key results emerged from the analysis. First, while financial incentives increase a farmer’s willingness to participate, there appears to be the potential for substantial crowding out of farmers’ intrinsic motivations —farmers would rather volunteer than earn a modest financial incentive. The estimates suggest that financial incentives in excess of $610 per acre would be required to get participation that is higher than a volunteer program. Second, while the size of the financial incentive is important to a farmer’s willingness to participate, how many acres the farmer would enroll in the program depends on it perceived effectiveness in terms of both the likelihood of producing enough milkweed per acre and the percentage of other farmers who would choose to participate. Third, there is a tradeoff between higher participation rates for easier to follow program requirements and higher milkweed establishment rates for more difficult to follow program requirements.