Environmental decision-making in the
European Union and Canada.
Agri-Environmental Policy in the EU and
Lessons for Australia?
Guy M Robinson
Centre for Rural Health &
University of South Australia
Agri-environment policies (AEPs) in the USA, Canada & the
EU are egs of payments for environmental services.
- pays farmers to reduce env disbenefits (negative
externalities) of agric prodn: nutrient run-off, soil erosion
- transfers public funds to farmers;
- creates positive externalities: scenic vistas, farming heritage,
inc biodiversity, desirable habitats;
- can keep farmers on the land.
Different approaches in N. Amer to EU … lessons for Austr?
Env payments = highly varied and can be rel. unspecific, with
payment not conditional on delivery of the envl. service.
USA – env payments admin thru Conservation Titles of recent
EU – Pillar 2 of CAP + cross-compliance provisions within
commodity payments section of Pillar 1.
Canada – Env Farm Plans, varying by province, agreed between
govt & farmers’ orgs. Ltd payments.
EU – seen in part as response to Uruguay Round of GATT
- move from direct commodity payments to agri-env and rur
devpt progs (RDPs)
- part of ‘multifunctionality’
- agri-env payments to produce outcomes desired by society
that would not be achieved by other means
- focus on both +ve & -ve externalities: farmers rewarded for
prodn of public goods and reducing –ve externalities
- Promoting less intensive prodn
US – complying with WTO provisions.
- Increased spending from 2002 Farm Bill: envl goals.
EU farmers paid to reduce stocking densities (in order to
reduce nitrogen surplus)
US farmers paid to reduce nitrogen surplus … could reduce
stocking density or invest in manure storage facilities for
their intensive cattle feed-lot.
Canadian farmers encouraged to prevent run-off into
watercourses by extending buffer zones … may reduce
US: forerunner = 1930s Conservation Reserve Program (today
= 10% of US cropland ….+ve effects on commodity prices;
and capitalized into value of fmland).
Size & scope of conservn progs. inc. thru 2002 Farm Bill.
+ Grassland Reserve Prog (GRP)
+ Conservn Security Prog (CSP)
But also inc. funds for commodity progs.
EU: 1986 UK Agric Act – creating ESAs.
- Extended thru 1992 MacSharry reforms to CAP
- More in 2000 and 2003, replacing prodn subsidies with
‘Single Farm Payment’ (compensation for dec fm supports)
In both the EU & N Amer agri-env policy used to make new
env regns more palatable to farmers.
Baylis et al: agri-env = partial compensation for cross-
compliance … compulsory in EU from 2005, and present in
US thru 1990s (e.g. compensations for retaining & improving
- Minimum Good Farming Practice (GFP) levels set for farmers
to qualify for EU Pillar 1 payments & price supports.
Cross-compliance in the latest CAP
“For the first time, the main subsidies are explicitly
linked to compliance with EU standards covering
environmental, public and animal health and animal
welfare. Farmers also have to maintain land in good
agricultural and environmental condition as defined by
the Member States. The Member States will have to
inspect a sample of the farms each year on a systematic
basis to ensure that standards are met.”
EU – broader view of agric externalities
- includes tradnl features, e.g. stone walls, rare breeds,
bldgs … compensation for provision by farmers
- farmers as producers of landscape.
US/Can – targets reduction of –ve externalities, e.g. loss of
topsoil, polln of watercourses, loss of habitat
- In US pre-2002 Farm Bill, 90% conservation $ to
farmers went to land retirement.
now some exceptions, e.g. Farm & Ranch Land
Preservn Prog. But subsidises polln reduction in intensive
Objectives of the first Scottish
Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs)
Protect rough grazing
Protect unimproved, enclosed land in valleys
Repair farm dykes/hedges
Regenerate farm woodland
Harmonise new developments with landscape amenity
Limit modern agricultural practices
Encourage traditional crofting techniques
Protect machair from over-stocking
Encourage positive conservation of machair
Protect wetland areas/loch shores from damage
Restrict pesticide usage on edges of arable fields
Worksheets in the Ontario
Environmental Farm Plan
Soil and site evaluation Water wells
Soil management Pesticide storage
Nutrient management in growing crops Fertiliser storage
Manure use and management Petroleum products storage
Field crop management Disposal of farm wastes
Pest management Treatment of household wastewater
Stream, ditch and floodplain management Storage of agricultural wastes
Wetlands and wildlife ponds Livestock yards
Woodlands and wildlife Silage storage
Energy efficiency Milking centre wash water
Water efficiency Noise and odour
The six-stage sequence of the EFP
1. Introductory workshop site evaluation; assess potential concerns
2. Complete farm review review farm operations; complete relevant
3. Second workshop consider possible actions; learn how to develop
a realistic plan
4. Complete action plan identify actions for all ‘Fair’ or ‘Poor’ rated
situations; develop timetable for action
5. Peer review add suggestions/ask for changes; return plan to
farmer; send information anonymously to OFC
6. Implementation of plan put plan into action; re-evaluate each year
Farmers’ self-assessment of soil
How do you rate on soil resources, pollution, wastes, pesticides?
Variable Best (4) Good (3) Fair (2) Poor (1)
1. potential for soil very low low moderate high
2. effects of harvesting wide choice of good choice of limited choice no choice
harvest dates; harvest dates; of harvest dates; of harvest
good natural or good natural fair natural date; poor
tile drainage drainage drainage natural
3. crop rotations regular rotation occasional
occasional no rotation
and cover crops with soil- rotation with
rotation but or cover crops
building crops soil-building
little plant and little
and cover crops crops and/or
material returned plant material
to soil or left returned in
on surface soil
Range of activities undertaken
within the EFP, 1/4/93 - 31/7/02
Activity % of all activities Activity % of all activities
Soil management 25 Disposal of farm wastes 1
Water wells 17 Wetlands and wildlife ponds 1
Storage of agricultural waste 10.5 Water efficiency 1
Stream, ditch and floodplain Fertiliser storage and handling 1
management 7 Noise and odour 1
Livestock yards 6.5 Milking centre wash water 1
Storage of petroleum products 5.5 Horticultural management 0.5
Treatment of household wastewater 4 Silage storage 0.5
Energy efficiency 4 Manure use and management 0.5
Pest management 3.5
Pesticide storage and handling 3
Field crop management 3
Nutrient management in growing crops 2
Woodlands and wildlife 1.5
EFP-related actions taken by farmers
600 no-till planter drill purchases
220 double-wall farm fuel tanks
600 watercourse and woodland fencing projects
to restrict livestock movement
250 transplanting projects
200 household septic system replacements
1600 drinking water well upgrade or plugging
300 foam markers purchased for sprayers
Items of Work in England’s
Countryside Stewardship Scheme
Managing grassland Managing fen and reedbeds
Lowland hay meadows Managing fen
Upland hay meadows Managing reedbed
Lowland and Culm pastures and old pastures
Upland in-bye pasture Managing lowland heath
Upland rough grazing enclosed pastures Maintaining existing lowland heath
Upland rough grazing Enhancing existing lowland heath
Chalk and limestone grassland Re-creating heath
Upland limestone grassland
Recreating grassland on cultivated land Access Agreements
- Supplement for raised water levels Open
- Supplement for use of native seed Linear - footpaths
Access for the disabled
Access for educational purposes
Grt variety of progs to choose from if anyone wishes to copy
or ‘learn’ from the experience of AEPs in the EU & N Amer.
In the EU progs often have multiple (rel unspecific) aims &
reflect baselines determined nationally; N Amer – more
targeted & more reflective of producer’s opportunity cost
(e.g. competitive auction-based … may enhance
Monitoring – variable!
EU – reflects taxpayers’ views; US – AEP correlates with
other agric subsidies, not conservn awareness.
Paper has drawn upon the following:
Baylis et al (2008) Ecological Economics
Robinson (2006) Geoforum; Geogrl J.
Robinson (1994) J. Env. Planning & Management
Robinson (1991) Land Use Policy