Why Landowners Should Be Paid What They Deserve
Making a farm, ranch or forest enterprise work financially isn’t easy. One of the main problems is the cost of land. Rising land values, and the subsequent property tax increases, can make it impossible for existing landowners to strive and can prevent new landowners from starting enterprises, especially in rapidly urbanising areas.
But society needs working lands for more than just food and fibre crops, so it really makes sense for us to preserve them. When they are managed sensibly and holistically, working lands can provide a wide range of benefits to people, communities and businesses. By implementing the right management policies, landowners can help steward the flow of soil nutrients, control erosion, purify water, and even regulate the climate.
For example, preventing a farm, ranch or forest from being converted into an impervious surface like concrete protects a watershed’s natural hydrology. This helps to properly manage water runoff and minimise the damage we are used to seeing on the news from floods.
Landowners are very rarely compensated for providing these kinds of services, which is exactly why we are seeing them happening less and less often. In America, there are a number of incentives that are being introduced to help with this problem.
These incentives include market incentives, such as money for watershed protection and fiscal incentives, such as cost-share programs or even tax deductions. Many landowners already have worked with a number of these measures, such as government cost-share programs. However, some others are relatively new measures which are still being trialed to see if they are effective.
Overall it’s important for us to reward landowners when they do something that isn’t necessarily profitable for them but does benefit the environment in the long run.