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Farmers’ Willingness to Participate in Payment-for-Environmental-Services Programmes


  • Shan Ma,

  • Scott M. Swinton,

  • Frank Lupi,

  • Christina Jolejole-Foreman

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    • Shan Ma is a post-doctoral scholar, Natural Capital Project, Stanford University. E-mail: for correspondence. Scott M. Swinton is a Professor and Frank Lupi is a Professor at the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. Christina Jolejole-Foreman is a PhD candidate at the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois. The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation under the Human and Social Dynamics and Long-term Ecological Research programmes. Thanks are also due to Michigan AgBioResearch and the Michigan State University Environmental Science and Policy Program. For valuable discussions, they thank Phil Robertson, Natalie Rector, Rob Shupp, Soren Anderson, Sara Syswerda, Lenisa Vangjel and Daniel Mooney. For data, they thank the 1,700 survey respondents as well as participants in focus groups and pre-tests. This research was conducted while the lead author was a PhD student at the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Michigan State University, Michigan, USA.


Understanding farmers’ willingness to participate in agricultural payment-for-environmental-services (PES) programmes is an essential precondition for designing effective and efficient programmes. Willingness to participate is typically examined via stated preference surveys using the standard hurdle model for whether and how much to participate. Among respondents who decline to participate, such analyses cannot distinguish between respondents who declined due to the payment level and those who were not interested at all. This paper applies a double hurdle model to incorporate a prior condition for whether a respondent is even willing to consider participating in the PES market. The model uses a unique stated preference survey permitting separation of the consideration and enrolment decisions of 1,700 farmers in Michigan, USA. The first hurdle probit model suggests that farmers’ willingness to consider PES chiefly depends on farm and farmer characteristics, while the second hurdle tobit model shows that decisions on whether and how much to enrol depend more on the payment offer and marginal benefit–cost criteria. This study provides fresh insights on facilitating farmer participation in PES programmes using tiered strategies that differ in costs of programme payment and administration.

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