Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics (September 4, 2013)


Published by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics. Copyright © [2013] Board of Regents, University of Nebraska.


In this article we continue discussing our vision for appealing to other than self-interest-only (profit maximization) in public policies on conservation of farming land. We look specifically at the downstream water pollution problem (i.e. agricultural practices of upstream farmers leading to soil erosion and chemical/fertilizer runoff, which results in poor water quality downstream). We are trying to find less costly solutions which will result in farmers using conservation technologies that decrease the impact of their agricultural practices on downstream rivers and lakes. One possible solution is to nudge for empathy, to encourage the farmers to consider the results of their choices from the perspective of the affected people, to encourage them to walk in the shoes of people who carry the negative effect of the pollution. As a result of doing so, these farmers might then join in the shared cause of improved water quality downstream, and change farming practices upstream, with lower costs overall.