Cooperative Conservation: A Producer-Led Approach to Achieving Healthy Agricultural Landscapes

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“Working Lands Conservation Cooperatives” envisions groups of landowners and producers, supported by robust technical assistance, driving efforts at a watershed or landscape scale to identify and agree on locally-appropriate conservation performance benchmarks to which all landowners and producers in an area would hold themselves accountable as a group. The  Cooperatives would test alternative approaches to meeting these benchmarks while also achieving production goals and assess the productivity and profitability of these practices over the long term. The Cooperatives would be accountable to state and federal agencies for ensuring agriculture’s active participation in efforts to meet state and federal environmental standards, and those who actively participate would receive safe harbor from regulatory action. The authors also provide case studies of successful conservation initiatives from across the country that exemplify components of their approach.

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