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date: 29 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Agri-environment policy was introduced in the European Union (EU) in the mid-1980s under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in response to agricultural surpluses and declining environmental standards. They are implemented in all 27 Member States, incurring some €24 billion expenditure over the period 2007–13. Schemes offer voluntary environmental contracts to farmers who accept management conditions in return for annual payments. Policy aims generally to promote land conservation by means of detailed changes in agricultural land management. Effective implementation faces a number of challenges: promoting appropriate management changes, addressing problems of asymmetric information, and optimizing transactions costs. Debate continues as to the extent of environmental benefits achieved, and there has been relatively little comprehensive evaluation. Future policy will need to enhance the efficiency of schemes through more targeted payments, greater competition, coordination over larger areas of land, and more security for the environmental gains achieved.

Keywords: agri-environment policy, common agricultural policy, environmental contracts, land conservation, agricultural land management, asymmetric information, transactions costs

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