assistance efforts resulted in more effective implementation and maintenance of BMPs.
Technical assistance also served to strengthen producers' motivation to participate in the
Like air pollution, water pollution from nonpoint sources is a complex issue. It is often
difficult for land users to understand how an individual's daily activities can contribute to
nonpoint source pollution. Producers are most likely to participate in solving water
quality problems when they understand that their own agricultural practices affect the
water quality of a local water resource. The farm operator survey showed that the major
reason producers did not participate in the RCWP projects was that they did not believe
water pollution was a problem. Conversely, twice as many RCWP participants as non-
participants stated that they believed water quality was a problem.
Producer participation also depends on farmers valuing the impaired water resource.
Because Iowa RCWP project participants valued a recreational lake that was decreasing
in size and depth due to sedimentation caused by cropland erosion, they were willing to
adopt new agricultural practices.
Environmental regulations, or the threat of regulation, can provide incentives for
producers to participate in agricultural NPS pollution control projects. Farmers in the
Chesapeake Bay drainage area face possible regulation if voluntary efforts fail to address
the NPS pollution problem. As a result, over 50% of the farmers eligible to participate in
the Virginia RCWP project were ready to get involved in the project as soon as cost-share
funding became available.
An impaired or threatened water resource affects the entire community. Nonpoint source
pollution control projects must have the support of the whole community. In Oregon,
community support of the Tillamook Bay RCWP project was instrumental in achieving
96% participation of critical area dairy farmers. Pressure to participate in the project
came from neighbors and a local business. Fecal coliform contamination of the bay,
caused by runoff from dairies, threatened the local economy by reducing shellfish
harvests. Many of the fishermen losing revenue were relatives and friends of local dairy
farmers. These fishermen were able to exert peer pressure on dairy farmers to change
their farming practices. In addition, all of the dairy farmers sold their milk to a local
cheese-producing cooperative that reserved the right to discount milk prices paid to
producers who did not install BMPs. This high level of community support played an
important role in the achievement of a very high rate of project participation.
Water quality changes require implementation of BMPs by a large percentage of
producers who farm in the critical area of a watershed. However, a high rate of