Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Resource Economics and Policy


Todd M. Gabe

Second Committee Member

Marge Kilkelly

Third Committee Member

Stewart N. Smith


This study examines the effect of farm operator demographics, land attributes, production characteristics, regional differences, and spatial influences on farm participation in land retirement and working land federal conservation programs. The programs examined in the analysis are the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Using county level data, three models are used to analyze the two programs. Three econometric models, Ordinary Least Squares (OLS), spatial lag, and grouped logit were used to estimate the impact of the various characteristics on the enrollment decision of participating farms. Few studies have researched model participation in working land programs, and even fewer have considered EQIP. Another unique aspect of this study is the incorporation of a spatial model to explain the effects that a neighbor's enrollment in a conservation program has on the decision making across farmers within counties. The results of the study indicate that female primary operators, those farmers whose primary occupation is in agriculture, the proportion of farmers in a county at or above retirement age, average government farm subsidy per acre, erosion per acre, farm size, counties where organic farming is present, and farm production costs all have a positive effect on the decision to enroll in either CRP and BQIP. Variables measuring a farms location in a metropolitan county, gross income from agricultural production, and farm values were found to have a negative effect on participation in both programs. In addition, regional differences and spatial dependency in participation were found to be significant in explaining the variation in enrollment of farms in both federal farm subsidy conservation programs.