Multifunctionality in Agriculture

Evaluating the degree of jointness, policy implications

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These proceedings examine the nature and strength of jointness between agricultural commodity production and non-commodity outputs from the perspective of three areas important to the agricultural sector: rural development, environmental externalities and food security. This workshop also examined whether the relationships among these non-commodity outputs were complementary or competing. Finally, the policy implications that could be derived from the findings of this workshop were also a key element in the discussions and are summarised in the Rapporteur’s summary.



De-linked Cost of Rural Landscape Maintenance

A Case Study from the Swiss Lowlands

Land-use in Switzerland continues to be dominated by agriculture. Approximately 40% of the total area (11 000 km2) is managed by farmers. The rest of the surface is either forest (30%), unproductive mountain area, lakes and rivers (26%) or built up areas (BLW, 2004). A change in agricultural structures or the amount of land in production would therefore also change landscape and open space amenities. This leads to the fundamental source of jointness between agriculture and landscapes. Since both have the same input factor, land, no separate production functions exist for agricultural products and landscape maintenance. For that reason, the latter can also be seen as an externality of agricultural production (Hediger and Lehmann, 2003). However, the intrinsic relationship is shifted under current agricultural support schemes. In Switzerland, market price support and direct payments result in a producer support estimate (PSE) of 68% (OECD, 2004). The extent of agriculture’s contribution to landscape amenities in an unsupported situation is unknown. From an economic perspective, however, the assessment of jointness needs a reference to this basic situation in order to evaluate efficient provision schemes. Moreover, agricultural support not only entails positive effects on landscapes, such as open space amenities or the provision of certain landscape elements, but also negative effects, e.g. the deterioration of wild life habitats or nutrient runoff. These relationships are based on complex ecological interactions which are often poorly understood (Heal and Small, 2002).


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