The Survey's Objectives
As a contribution to the national debate about property rights and the appropriateness of land use regulations, American Farmland Trust sponsored a national level survey of farmland and ranch land owners. In the summer and fall of 1997, the Public Opinion Laboratory of Northern Illinois University surveyed random samples of owners of agricultural land in six regions of the country: the West, Southern Plains, Northern Plains, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast. Opinions were obtained from a total of 1,729 respondents owning or, in a few cases, managing agricultural land in 162 randomly selected counties spread over 42 states.
The survey had four main objectives to learn from owners:
1) if they believed that any government regulations had reduced the value of farmland or ranch land they, themselves, owned;
2) what guidelines should determine compensation when government regulations diminish property values;
3) under what circumstances, if any, should government regulations and payments be used to address land use conflicts and environmental issues; and
4) how support for particular compensation criteria and approaches to environmental conflict-resolution may vary significantly by region, type of regulation, kind of agricultural land owned (e.g., used for livestock, crops, logging) and other traits of the land or the owner.