6 ethical issues in productivity stewardship agricultural water use
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6. Ethical Issues in Productivity & Stewardship: Agricultural Water Use. Larry D. Sanders Spring 2002. Dept. of Ag Economics Oklahoma State University. INTRODUCTION. Purpose: to understand the ethical issues related to agricultural water use Learning Objectives:

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6 ethical issues in productivity stewardship agricultural water use

6. Ethical Issues in Productivity & Stewardship: Agricultural Water Use

Larry D. Sanders Spring 2002

Dept. of Ag Economics Oklahoma State University


Introduction

INTRODUCTION

  • Purpose:

    • to understand the ethical issues related to agricultural

      water use

  • Learning Objectives:

    1. To review an ag water use case study, identifying the

    situation, causes, ethical issues and alternatives.

    2. To understand the nature of ag water use as an example

    of the larger issue of productivity vs. stewardship.

    3. To become aware of generic issues related to water use

    and water quality, recognizing the ethical choices

    embedded in the public & private alternatives.

    4. To become aware of the process of finding “common

    ground” as an alternative for resolution.


Stewardship of the land by farmers myth or fact

Stewardship of the land by farmers:Myth or fact?

  • Dustbowl & Oklahoma?

  • Recovery from Dustbowl?

  • San Joaquin Valley wetlands destruction (CA)?

  • Ogallala Aquifer depletion (High Plains)?

  • Chesapeake Bay eutrophication?

  • Colorado River salination & siltation (AZ)?

  • CRP/EQIP/WRP participants?

  • Holistic farming?

  • Farmer cooperation w/Ducks Unlimited, others?

  • Destructive effects include:

    • Environmental contamination; Habitat destruction; Resource depletion


Cases irrigation drainwater contamination in san joaquin valley

Cases: Irrigation Drainwater Contamination in San Joaquin Valley

  • Critical habitat for humans & millions of migratory waterfowl

    • 1/5 of North America’s waterfowl winter in San Joaquin Valley

    • 6% of original wetlands remain

    • Most waterfowl now use national wildlife refuges & private duck-hunting preserves

    • High mortality/deformation rate; likely cause selenium poisoning from ag drainage into refuges

    • Human health at risk w/Kesterson Reservoir selenium count 8 to 4000 x standard (1983)


Irrigation drainwater contamination in san joaquin valley cont

Irrigation Drainwater Contamination in San Joaquin Valley (cont.)

  • Ethical basis for public intervention

    • Rights-based view:

      • Prevent humans harming other humans

      • Prevent harm to wildlife & environment

      • Desire to stop actions harmful to humans & waterfowl (stop the action that pollutes


Irrigation drainwater contamination in san joaquin valley cont1

Irrigation Drainwater Contamination in San Joaquin Valley (cont.)

  • Ethical basis for public intervention (cont.)

    • Utilitarian view:

      • Public action to prohibit/regulate actions where net social benefits less than net social costs (farmer practices result in pollution of waters that cause social costs to society that are greater than benefits to society)

      • Desire to modify existing structure so farmer actions no longer impose net social cost (internalize the social cost by levying a tax on effluents; if the farmer can afford the license, ok to pollute)


Irrigation drainwater contamination in san joaquin valley cont2

Irrigation Drainwater Contamination in San Joaquin Valley (cont.)

  • Public resolution must be:

    • Legal

    • Politically viable

    • Enforceable

    • Cost effective

    • Technologically feasible

    • Environmentally sound

    • Ethically defensible

  • Short term: close drains that feed reservoir

  • Long term: resolve the toxicity of irrigation farming


Irrigation drainwater contamination in san joaquin valley cont3

Irrigation Drainwater Contamination in San Joaquin Valley (cont.)

  • Productivity vs. Stewardship

    • Maximizing production: greatest output

    • Productivity: efficiency of production (increasing ratio of value of output to value of input)

    • Stewardship: maintaining certain environmental standards for sustainability

    • Public policy & producer both have goals to maximize production & productivity

      • Adequate, varied, affordable, globally competitive food supply that supports economic stability

      • Rights-based & utilitarian views used to support such goals

    • Environmentalists: 2 goals responsible for ag crisis & environmental destruction; ignore stewardship


Irrigation drainwater contamination in san joaquin valley cont4

Irrigation Drainwater Contamination in San Joaquin Valley (cont.)

  • Productivity vs. Stewardship (cont.)

    • Environmentalists: 2 goals responsible for ag crisis & environmental destruction

      • Producers must increase productivity to improve profits

      • Technology or externalizing costs primary ways to do so

      • Easiest/most common negative externalities: natural resource management (soil, water, habitat) of inputs or waste disposal

      • Technology improvements may also result in negative externalities and/or environmental degradation (larger/less efficient fossil-fuel burning equipment, hybrids, chemicals), although some technology may reduce environmental impact

      • Technology treadmill & increasing debt levels minimizes long term positive impact


Irrigation drainwater contamination in san joaquin valley cont5

Irrigation Drainwater Contamination in San Joaquin Valley (cont.)

  • Productivity vs. Stewardship (cont.)

    • Result: Stewardship often loses out to productivity

    • Producers & public policy based on rights-based view of individual freedom to choose &/or utilitarian view of profitability wins over Environmentalists rights-based view of ecocentrism or rights of nature &/or utilitarian view of welfare economics to internalize negative externalities

    • Search for “common ground”among moral preferences

      • Environmental mitigation

      • Compensation to re-assign property rights

      • Purchasing rights


Other case concepts in tmr6

Other case & concepts in TMR6

  • Texas Water War: Edwards Aquifer

  • Allocative efficiency: resources should go to most valued use (willingness to pay = willingness to sell; marginal benefits=marginal costs; demand=supply)

    • May provide utilitarian ethical foundation for commercial development

  • Market failure: private market does not provide social efficiency (marginal social benefits=marginal social costs)

    • Causes include externalities, public goods, inappropriate government intervention

    • Solutions include private-private or private-society mediation, government intervention

  • Conservation vs. Preservation


Issues options water use

Issues & Options:Water Use

  • SUPPLY

    • Development (Dams, Diversions)

      • increased water availability (industrial, municipal, recreation), improved ag production & lower food prices, flood control

      • reduced endangered species/habitat & scenic areas

    • Pricing or Sale of Rights--typically a state/local issue

      • increased water costs & conservation

      • may reduce ag production

      • water is more likely available


Issues options water use cont

Issues & Options:Water Use (cont)

  • SUPPLY (continued)

    • Management--typically a state issue (Feds may be involved if resource crosses state boundaries)

      • increased water conservation & reduced scarcity

      • use more consistent with need

      • reduced freedom & value of water rights


Issues options water use1

Issues & Options:Water Use

  • SURFACE WATER RIGHTS

    • Riparian (owner of land)

    • Prior Appropriation

  • GROUNDWATER RIGHTS

    • Absolute ownership

    • Reasonable use

    • Restatement rule

    • Correlative rights


Issues options water quality

Issues & Options:Water Quality

  • FREE MARKET--Point & Nonpoint Pollution

  • INPUT TAXES--Internalize costs


Issues options water quality continued

Issues & Options:Water Quality (continued)

  • REGULATION

    • Key regs:

      • Clean Water Act (CWA)-1977

      • Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA)-1972

      • Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)-1974

      • Federal Insecticide Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)-47; Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act (FEPCA)-72; 88; 96

      • Endangered Species Act (ESA)-1973

      • Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA)-1996

    • Performance Standards (flexibility)

    • Prescribing/Proscribing Practices


Issues options water quality cont

Issues & Options:Water Quality (cont.)

  • Subsidies

    • --Incentives (WQIP; CRP; EQIP; CFO; WRP;Cost-sharing; Green payments; IPM)

  • If agriculture treated as “point” source

    • Water quality, production costs, food prices up

    • Soil erosion, farmer freedom down


Issues options wetlands

Issues & Options:Wetlands

  • Definitional issue

  • Free market

    • Reduced wetlands, water quality, wildlife, habitat

    • More land for ag, residential & commercial use

  • Regulation

    • Swampbuster

    • No net loss

    • BMPs

  • Subsidies

    • WRP--1990

    • Compensation


When private decisions affect other people or things

WHEN PRIVATE DECISIONS AFFECT OTHER PEOPLE OR THINGS

Finding “Common Ground” thru

mutual consent

May be private, public or both

May be direct, thru an intermediary or both


Agricultural practice harms human nonhuman species

Agricultural Practice Harms Human/Nonhuman species

AlternativeConsequence

1. Do nothing--Harmed person(s)

&/or nonhuman

species pay(s)

  • Producer changes--Producer pays

    --Consumer pays

    --Harmed person/ species pays less/none

  • Government accepts--Taxpayer pays

    responsibility--Harmed person/ species pays less/none


Who s to blame how to resolve how to find common ground

Who’s to blame & how to resolve?How to find “common ground”?

Bull in the neighbor’s field

Private

vs.

Private


Who s to blame how to resolve how to find common ground1

Who’s to blame & how to resolve?How to find “common ground”?

Odor from a large hog farm

Private

vs.

Public

Private

vs.

Private


Who s to blame how to resolve how to find common ground2

Who’s to blame & how to resolve?How to find “common ground”?

Draining a wetland

Private

vs.

Environment

(Public? Private?)


Who s to blame how to resolve how to find common ground3

Who’s to blame & how to resolve?How to find “common ground”?

Closing a school or hospital

Public

vs.

Private

Public

vs.

Public


Who to credit who benefits is it a net benefit to community

Who to credit, who benefits & is it a net benefit to community?

New farm/business brings jobs & economic activity

Some folks lose: -higher cost of living? -lower quality of life? -stress infrastructure

Some folks benefit: -more income; -more profit opportunities; -more “vibrant” community


Externalities

Externalities

  • Decision impacts someone or something other than the decision maker & his/her operation

  • Impacts may be costs (negative externality) or benefits (positive externality) or both

  • Referred to as “market failure”


Solution

Solution?

  • Simple, if not easy:

    • Internalize these costs or benefits into the decision maker’s operation (fees, taxes, fines, penalties, subsidies, grants)

    • Education

  • Who decides?

  • How to implement?

  • Who pays?


Alternatives

Alternatives:

1. Free market?

--Affected parties work it out

--Possibly thru courts

--Mediation


Alternatives1

Alternatives:

2. Quasi-market?

--Marketable permits

--Create markets for transfer of property rights (water use, easements, oil/ mineral rights, air quality)


Alternatives continued

Alternatives (continued):

3. Command/Control?

--Regulations

--Permits/licenses

--Certification

--Taxes

--Label requirements


Alternatives continued1

Alternatives (continued):

4. Government incentives?

--Subsidies

--Technical assistance

--Tax breaks

--Grants


Alternatives continued2

Alternatives (continued):

5. Government production of environmental quality?

--Water/sewage treatment

--Plant trees

--Develop/restore wetlands

--Stock fish

--Create alternative ecosystems (wetlands, forests, ponds, lakes, canals)


Alternatives continued3

Alternatives (continued):

6. Moral suasion?

--Woodsy Owl

--Smokey the Bear

--Pinky the Pig(???)


Market failure property rights understanding may assist common ground

Market Failure & Property Rights:Understanding may assist “common ground”

  • One reason for market failure:

    • Property Rights not assigned

  • Property Rights

    • --Defined by Society; not absolute

      • Clean Air/Water?

      • Private Property?

  • Open-Access Externality:

    • Property Rights insufficient or unenforceable to prevent general use, leading to destruction/diminishment/damage of resource


Best environmental quality level

“Best” Environmental Quality Level ?

  • Economics provides analytical tools

    • Market

    • Nonmarket

  • Society provides the goals & ethical standards

    • Thru market, public action or group deliberation/ mediation

    • Lives &

      Livelihood


Finding common ground

Finding “Common Ground”

  • May/may not achieve “best” environmental level

  • May be more sustainable because of interested parties’ acceptance/ownership

  • May be more ethical because of interested parties’ mutual cooperation & respect


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