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Revised Agri-environment Policy Objectives: Implications for Scheme Design

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The new objectives for agri-environment policy recommended by the Policy Commission for the Future of Food and Farming are reviewed and proposals to achieve them are assessed. The Commission proposes a unified scheme, with a 'broad and shallow' tier that would incorporate a whole-farm environmental plan and audit. Participation at this level would be a prerequisite for entry into higher tiers focused on securing regional and national ecological, landscape and bio-diversity priorities. However, the Commission recognizes that further resource protection measures need to be developed to substantiate its design, particularly to enable the delivery of 'wider bio-diversity and landscape benefits'. Innovations in addition to those recommended by the Policy Commission are advocated here. These include adding Cultural options and a two-option Enhanced Level tier. The specifications of the first Enhanced Level option would be based on each farm's Sustainability Index Score. The second option would overcome the 'economics of configuration' problem by encouraging farmers to co-operate to deliver environmental outputs as members of 'environmental clubs'. The possibility of using web-based technology to increase the transparency of agri-environmental payments is also discussed. The design proposed here streamlines, simplifies and increases the efficiency of the existing agri-environment schemes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Developments, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK. [email protected]

Publication date: May 1, 2003

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