Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

David W. Hughes


In the U.S., wetlands are one of the resources that have been adversely affected by development in agriculture. In response, and in order to protect wetlands as vital environmental resource, the federal government initiated several agriculture-related environmental protection programs, such as swamp buster, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). The WRP is an incentive-based program designed to encourage farmers to reconvert appropriate cropland to wetlands through subsidy payments. Because land is withdrawn from agricultural production, regions with relatively high participation rates, such as Louisiana, could experience adverse economic impacts from the program. As of August 1996, about $39 million in subsidy cash payments have been paid to farmers for easement, restoration, and maintenance activities on 65,000 acres. Previous studies of similar programs have utilized fixed-price models, especially input-output (I-O) models, to evaluate regional impacts. In addition to being limited in scope, these studies relied on models with stringent assumptions without consideration of other alternative models with the potential for different results. In this study, the three most common regional impact analysis models--input-output (I-O), social accounting matrix (SAM), and computable general equilibrium (CGE)--were developed for Louisiana and used to evaluate the impact of the WRP in the state. Direct impacts of the program were captured using a combination of geographic information system (GIS), Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) model, and published and unpublished data. Model results show that the impacts of the program on the state economy were marginal in terms of output, income, and changes in price levels. In spite of the marginal impacts predicted here, results indicate that the impact of the program may be different at higher levels of participation and when the analysis is restricted only to participating regions or parishes. In general, the SAM yielded the largest impact estimate followed by the I-O, with the CGE yielding the smallest change. Regional economic analysts should be cautious in choosing particular regional model because results may differ markedly. For example, results from the CGE model differed in the predicted direction of change from the other regional models.