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Evaluating Agri-environmental Policies

Design, Practice and Results

image of Evaluating Agri-environmental Policies

These conference proceedings present a series of evaluations of agri-environmental policies in OECD countries.  They examine how effective the policies have been in achieving objectives and what policy makers have learned about the design and implementation of their policies. 

These proceedings show that different methods of policy evaluation are complementary. Most countries focus on evaluating the environmental effectiveness rather than the economic efficiency of policies, using physical indicators rather than monetary values. Many policies are achieving their environmental objectives, but are taking longer than originally anticipated. The initiative being taken in many countries to incorporate monitoring and data collection into programme design and implementation is a positive development.  But a number of steps need to be taken to improve the quality of evaluations, including the better articulation of policy goals and objectives, improving data quality and establishing baselines for comparison.

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Evaluating Agri-environmental Schemes in England

This paper starts with a short summary of the development of agri-environment schemes2 in England and then describes a two-year review intended to evaluate the existing schemes and to design a replacement for them. Evaluation of the existing schemes was carried out using a combination of data from scheme monitoring, externally commissioned reviews, other published and unpublished surveys and a major public consultation exercise. The design of the new scheme, Environmental Stewardship, built on the results of this review and was itself subject to two rounds of public consultation intended to ensure that the design was robust and widely supported. The design provides for a two-tier scheme, the Entry Level of which is intended to be a simple scheme, open to all farmers and offering a fixed payment per hectare in return for a package of management measures chosen by the farmer from a standard menu of options. Because this type of scheme is new to England, a live pilot was run to evaluate the design. Success criteria were agreed in advance covering uptake, farmer reactions, and likely environmental outcomes. The performance of the pilot against these criteria was carefully monitored during the first six months of the pilot. It was concluded that the pilot had met all its success criteria. The design of Environmental Stewardship is now complete and has been approved by the European Commission (EC). The design of the scheme incorporates features intended to make it easier to measure environmental outcomes in future and these are briefly described, along with the overall strategy for evaluating the performance of the scheme. It is stressed that in future it will be important to shorten the cycle time between monitoring, evaluation and changes to schemes.

English

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