Per-Acre Restrictions, or Command and Control

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The simplest way to reduce nitrogen in the Mississippi watershed would be to restrict the use of fertilizer to an acceptable tonnage per acre for the whole watershed. The issue of per acre restrictions on Nitrogen fertilization is the economic effects that would occur alongside a reduction in water contamination. First, crop yields definitely would decline (UIUC, 1997). Yield declines could increase food prices and limit our ability to export and decrease the balance of trade. In 1997 the U.S. had 57 billion dollars of agricultural exports for a net positive 21 billion in balance of trade (USDA, 1998). Farm incomes would also decline on an individual level (UIUC, 1997). Farm support is always a popular topic in Congress, so the political ramifications of significant per acre restrictions in nitrogen fertilization would be felt at the local level. More agricultural subsidies and aid programs would be demanded by rural representatives, a hidden cost of restrictions. Typically, a command and control approach to environmental regulation can result in many more social costs than just water quality, hypoxia, loss of fishing, and habitat destruction.

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