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A nationwide survey of natural resource professionals was conducted in 1995 to determine state legislation and programs directly or indirectly pertaining to agroforestry. The study was based on the premise that the challenges of agroforestry adoption in the United States are linked to the necessity of sound policy.

Twenty states were found to have some type of agroforestry legislation nine states have direct legislation, the remaining 11 states have indirect legislation. Direct legislation means there is a law or section of law that specifically relates to agroforestry practices; indirect legislation means that the state has a law or section of law that can be related to agroforestry but it does not address specific practices.


Direct legislation

Nine states have enacted direct agroforestry legislation (Table 1). Practices included under direct legislation are windbreaks/shelterbelts, strip cropping/ alley cropping, silvopasture, vegetative buffer strips and forest farming; provisions include technical assistance and education, cost-sharing and tax reduction. Other practices that may be considered agroforestry, such as field border and critical area planting, were also included in some legislation. Windbreak or shelterbelt development is the most popular practice to be adopted, followed by alley-cropping, silvopasture, and vegetative buffer strips.

A cost-share program is utilized by some state governments to encourage landowners to adopt agroforestry practices. Eight states employ cost-share programs: Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Virginia. Annual payments is another incentive available to landowners in the states of Missouri and South Dakota. Only Indiana, which has direct agroforestry legislation, employs tax reduction. All states may provide technical assistance, education, or extension as a basic provision to landowners.

Table 1. Description of state laws directly related to agroforestry practices.

Title of the Law

Approved Practices Provisions
 HI  Forest Stewardship Act  WB Costing-sharing (up to 50%) for approved management practices including agroforestry.

Indirect legislation

Eleven states have enacted indirect agroforestry legislation. Provisions included under indirect legislation include technical assistance and education, costsharing, tax reduction, and loan financing.

States with indirect agroforestry legislation might also have agroforestry practices through interpretation of certain chapters or sections in that indirect legislation or implementation of federal law relating to agroforestry, e.g., the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) or the Forest Stewardship Program (FSP); examples are New Mexico and Utah. Even states which do not have any agroforestry legislation possibly encourage agroforestry practices through implementation of such federal legislation as CRP and FSP.

Most of the states having indirect agroforestry legislation have utilized tax reduction to promote tree planting. There are five states that employ such an incentive: Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Cost-sharing also is used by some states to encourage landowners to plant trees on their lands. A cost-share program is employed by four states: Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Utah. Seedling assistance is provided by New Mexico and North Dakota. Two states, New York and Washington, do not provide any form of incentive, rather they utilize established regulations to enforce their programs.