Given growing concerns about the loss of farmland in the US, governmental and nonprofit groups are seeking innovative, cost-effective methods to preserve lands that will elicit additional landowner participation.
This article describes four innovative farmland preservation techniques and derives implications for the policy process through interviews of key stakeholders: program administrators, lawmakers, and landowners. Experts on farmland preservation were also interviewed to ensure stakeholder perceptions substantively inform the policy process. Four techniques were selected for assessment from approximately 30 novel techniques. Reactions to these policy options reflect stakeholder perceptions of a baseline condition; the perceptions help evaluate which options are likely to survive the policy process and what attributes will lead to their acceptability because few of these techniques have yet become policy. Although the stakeholders may have more limited experience with the policy process, land preservation experts validated many of the results and the possibility of success in the ‘‘rough and tumble’’ of the policy process.
Of the four investigated techniques rights of first refusal was the most favored, although respondents thought effective implementation would require careful targeting and a dedicated funding source. Experts agreed this technique was most likely to survive in the political arena. Agricultural conservation pension was also viewed favorably, though it was considere
administratively difficult to implement. Several experts thought that, though inchoate, the pension plan could potentially be more cost effective than rights of first refusal. Land preservation tontines were perceived to be an interesting concept, but confusing, difficult to implement, and ill-defined. Term conservation easements were viewed unfavorably because they did not preserve land permanently.