Posts Tagged ‘Agri-environmental schemes’

Ecosystem services and the greening of the CAP

Friday, December 31st, 2010

The European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will soon be reformed. The European Commission has already made several propositions, summarized here and explained here (pdf).

In a general context of decreasing subsidies, the EU commission has outlined three contrasting scenarios for the post 2013 CAP. These scenarios variously mix direct payments, market-instruments and rural development schemes. Whichever scenario finally unfolds, direct payments will be (totally or in part) justified on the basis of environmental public goods (together with stronger eco-conditionality). This is the greening of the CAP!

Christian Deverre and Christine de Sainte Marie analysed this greening in a very interesting article (which is unfortunately only available in French). Although they refer a lot to current agricultural policy in Switzerland, their insight is very relevant to the EU.

C. Deverre and C. de Sainte Marie recognize that the greening of the CAP is only nascent and that the institutions that govern the farming sector are still built around 1960s modernization goals. They also anticipate two important consequences to further greening of the CAP:

  • The increasing need for a detailed assessment of the environmental public goods that farmers provide. The ecosystem service concept is well suited to framing these assessments and will no doubt be strengthened by the coming reform
  • The risk of further “off shoring” of environmental degradations caused by producing food for the European market in other countries (because greening production in Europe implies reducing production levels)
  • In Nagoya, Europe agreed to end, reduce or reform economic incentives that negatively impact biodiversity (including farming subsidies). The CAP reform is an important tool for facing up to this challenge. In this context, it appears clearly necessary to better characterize the effects of farming practices on ecosystem services, at different scales of analysis: from the parcel to the landscape, both in Europe and beyond.