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Paying for Environmental Performance: Estimating the Environmental Outcomes of Agricultural Best Management Practices

How can the estimation of environmental outcomes be used to effectively allocate conservation funding, and what additional steps are needed to improve this process?

Executive Summary

This Policy Note outlines how the environmental performance of agricultural BMPs can be estimated, and what steps are necessary for improving these estimations--both important elements for effectively allocating conservation funding. This Policy Note sets forth the following recommendations:

  • Standardize estimation methodologies to quantify the environmental outcomes of agricultural best management practices.
  • Conduct site-specific assessments of environmental performance through programs such as the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) to:
    • increase site-specific research on estimating environmental outcomes and environmental co-benefits;
    • Establish a monitoring framework to validate estimation methodologies and test their accuracy; and
    • Create a central repository to provide access to estimation methodologies and monitoring data.
  • Utilize online tools to make standardized estimation methodologies widely available.

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