Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Community Development and Applied Economics

First Advisor

Chyi-Lyi (Kathleen) Liang

Abstract

Eutrophication, stimulated by phosphorous (P) runoff from landscapes, compromises water quality and can have long-term impacts on the aesthetics, recreation, property values, and drinkability of bodies of water around the world. In the State of Vermont, efforts are underway to control the amount of P entering Lake Champlain per standards set forth in the Federal Clean Water Act. Agriculture has been identified as a major contributor to excess P in the waterways and will be managed according to Act 64, the Vermont Water Quality Act. The studies presented in this paper will introduce two independent methodologies proposed to aid in evaluating the farmer's willingness to implement pro-environmental practices, (1) determining farmer values towards implementation of best management practices to inform policy, and (2) creating a multifunctional sustainability prioritization scheme for dissemination of Clean Water Fund resources.

The Vermont Water Quality Act proposes Required Agricultural Practices (RAP) for agriculture in the State with a limited understanding of what the farming community desires from such a policy. This paper's first article titled, "Determining Farmer Values for Implementing Pro-Environmental Practices," analyzes twenty-four farmers and their associated values towards adopting pro-environmental practices for improved water quality. A hierarchical cluster analysis was used to segment farmers according to their adoption of best management practices on their farms. Further, a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted using dependent functional (quality), functional (price), and emotional, social, conditional, and epistemic variables to understand the variance between the segments. The results from this analysis illuminate farmer values. This information can be used to inform water quality policy, ecosystem service payments, communication strategy, and funding dissemination.

The Clean Water Fund was created to support the implementation of water quality initiatives in various sectors throughout the State of Vermont. The resources within the fund are limited; therefore careful prioritization of farms for outreach is essential. In the article titled, "Prioritizing Farms for Subsidies: A Multifunctional Approach," a prioritization methodology is presented using theory from the sustainable multifunctional agriculture literature. The sample includes vegetable, vegetable and meat, meat, and maple producers within the State. The diverse production types included in this study reflects the non-discriminatory—relating to production types—policies in Act 64. The study is limited by the exclusion of the dairy sector. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software was used to map environmental practices on twelve farm landscapes to generate a spatial representation of environmental stewardship that was then translated into an environmental score. This environmental score was combined with social and economic data to prioritize farms based upon their multifunctional sustainability. This ranking methodology may be useful for the State of Vermont in determining the prioritization of Clean Water Fund resources using farm sustainability measurements.

Language

en

Number of Pages

128 p.

Available for download on Thursday, June 07, 2018

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