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The following report documents the results and implications for the study, “Conversations with non-choir farmers: Implications for conservation adoption”. We conducted 10 in-person focus groups with farmers (IN=5; IA=3; IL=2) and three online focus groups with non-operating landowners (NOLs) who own land in Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. This research sought to answer the following research questions:

1) What are viable strategies beyond what WFF is currently investing in to promote agricultural practices that that reduce nutrient runoff?

2) How and under what conditions can policies help to change farmer and landowner behavior? What are potential barriers, particularly resistance from the agricultural sector?

3) What do Corn Belt farmers think about the limits to voluntary conservation? Do they see a need to think beyond voluntary conservation?

4) What suggestions do Corn Belt farmers have for how to motivate wide-spread adoption of conservation practices to improve water quality?

5) How could new policies and incentives be tied to existing funding streams (e.g., Farm Bill) or other financial incentives?

The focus group questions were designed to foster participants’ discussions of their perceptions on seven topics related to the research questions: 1) regulation; 2) conservation barriers; 3) market-based policies; 4) conservation targeting; 5) motivations for widespread conservation adoption; 6) communication networks; and 7) certification programs and private sector funding for conservation. The following pages include data from the 13 focus groups – 10 with farmers and 3 with NOLs. We conclude with implications of our findings.

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Purdue University


West Lafayette, IN


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Rural Sociology | University Extension