Date of Graduation

12-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

Qiuqiong Huang

Committee Member

Kent Kovacs

Second Committee Member

Jennie Popp

Third Committee Member

Bruce Dixon

Fourth Committee Member

Rudolfo Nayga

Fifth Committee Member

Stijn Speelman

Keywords

Social sciences; Health and environmental sciences; Earth sciences; Contingent valuation; Groundwater; Irrigation; Water; Willingness to pay

Abstract

Reliance of Arkansas agricultural producers on groundwater for irrigation has led to depletion of the Mississippi River Valley alluvial aquifer. Without intervention, consequences include insufficient groundwater to meet irrigation demand as well as drawdown of the deeper Sparta Aquifer, upon which communities in eastern Arkansas rely for non-agricultural use. Among proposed solutions to combat groundwater decline is the construction of off-farm surface water infrastructure to meet the irrigation needs of producers. Despite the importance of irrigated agriculture to Arkansas, there is little know about the economic value of irrigation water to producers. Thus, we implement a double-bounded dichotomous choice contingent valuation survey to estimate producer willingness to pay (WTP) for irrigation water from irrigation districts when access to groundwater is restricted. While WTP clearly varies between water-scarce and water-abundant areas of the Delta, we find that, on average, producers are WTP $32.87 per acre-foot of irrigation water. Nonetheless, high levels of uncertainty among producers regarding the extent of groundwater shortage in the region persist, highlighting the need for continued, targeted education efforts by extension professionals.

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