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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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Evaluation of the Dutch Manure and Fertiliser Policy 1998-2002

In 2003/04 five instruments of Dutch manure and fertiliser policy were evaluated: the Minerals Accounting System (MINAS, the core of Dutch manure policy), the Manure Transfer Contracts system, the Production Quota system, the Buying Up Scheme and the Nitrate Projects Action Scheme. A great number of data sources and research and evaluation tools were used. The evaluation showed that MINAS was for important sectors within agriculture both an effective and efficient instrument. The system of Manure Transfer Contracts did not add to the effect of the Production Quota system and therefore was not efficient. MINAS has contributed to a reduction in the use of chemical nitrogen fertilisers by 25% and phosphate fertilisers by 10-20%. Since 1998 nitrogen surpluses in dairy farming have steadily reduced by 15-30 kg ha–1 yr–1 and present surpluses average about 150 kg ha–1 yr-1. Nitrate concentrations in upper groundwater have decreased substantially since 1990, but the target value of 50 mg L-1 is exceeded on at least 60% of all farms on sandy soils in the Netherlands.

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