Learning From Our Landowners
land that is purchased to produce an income, the landowner is less likely to participate in conservation programs because he or she believes it will take land out of intense agricultural production. However, many of the conservation and incentives programs available today are fully compatible with agricultural production and allow an individual to maximize production on the most profitable acres while devoting the least profitable acres to practices beneficial to bobwhite quail or other wildlife species.
What are their properties like?
Forty-nine percent of the Landowner Assistance Program survey participants own 125 acres or less. Surprisingly, 45 percent of the individuals responding claimed to own between 126 acres and 1,000 acres. The census of Agriculture in 2002 stated the average farm size for Missouri farm operators was 280 acres.
What we learned
One goal of MDC’s overall private land assistance efforts is to help landowners effectively use the state, federal and private conservation assistance programs and technical support that is available. Accordingly, survey participants were asked if they used the management practices suggested by the resource planner. Over 88 percent of the individuals responded that they had used either all, most, or some of the management practices recommended by field staff.
The development of a management plan, for some landowners, is an invaluable document that will guide their activities over the next several years. Once a landowner determines the objectives for a piece of property, a plan can help identify the critical needs and limiting factors for many wildlife species on a given tract of land. With this in mind, survey participants were asked if the management practices recommended by department staff helped meet their objectives. Over 94 percent of the landowners responding indicated that the practices had either somewhat helped or very much helped meet their objectives.
The Landowner Assistance Program Survey also asked participants to identify limiting factors that may keep them from completing various management practices. The majority of responses focused on the funding, time and manpower required to install the practices.
Funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the 2002 Farm Bill, along with many state and non-governmental conservation and landowner incentive programs, has greatly improved landowners’ ability to complete beneficial habitat management practices. Unfortunately, a 2003 Farm and Rural land ownership survey conducted by the Department indicates that 53 percent of the individuals responding were not aware of the management assistance available to private landowners. This is one reason why