Evaluating the use of an environmental assurance program to address pollution from United States cropland

D. Stuart, E. Benveniste, L. M. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Voluntary market-based programs have been proposed as cost-effective means to reduce environmental impacts associated with agriculture. This study examines a relatively new program in Michigan USA, the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), and explores how it might serve to reduce nutrient pollution associated with intensive corn production. Interviews with corn farmers were used to explore reasons for program participation, the extent of management changes, and opinions regarding program effectiveness. Results indicate that most farmers enrolled in the program had already satisfied the majority of the requirements, therefore few changes were made that would result in environmental improvements. Interviews also revealed that in almost all cases, corn farmers were unable to market their products as MAEAP verified. Participation was largely driven by goals to avoid law enforcement and minor financial benefits through insurance discounts. Farmers indicated that a lack of monitoring and enforcement reduced the perceived effectiveness of the program. Most farmers favored direct payments through government conservation programs over MAEAP. This case illustrates the limitations of voluntary and market-based programs to address agri-environmental problems and supports the use of multiple policy approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-43
Number of pages10
JournalLand Use Policy
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Agriculture
  • Environment
  • Fertilizer
  • Neoliberal
  • Pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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