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.



Sweden's Experience with Evaluating Agri-environmental Payments

Several of the Swedish environmental objectives comprise positive and negative environmental effects of agriculture. One of the most important positive effects is the management and preservation of semi-natural pastures. Those lands provide a considerable share of the biodiversity and cultural values of Sweden’s agricultural landscape. An important negative effect is nitrogen leaching and ammonia emissions regarding both land and water. Simulations using an economic model of Swedish farming show that most forms of support related to grazing animals or to grassland have a positive effect on the pasture area. At the same time, those measures contribute to negative environmental load in the form of nitrogen leaching and ammonia emission. The relationship between positive and negative effects is very different for different forms of support. Simulations indicate a significantly higher environmental efficiency with more targeted measures. Different environmental objectives require different policy measures to deal with the objective-specific problem. The targeted measure that compensates for using a particular cropping technique in areas sensitive to leaching has proved to be cost-efficient. Good models are essential to evaluation. When economic models fail to predict the observed development, additional evaluation methods must be used. This can be the case when developments in agriculture are affected by social factors, in addition to agro-economical ones.


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