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U.K., European agriculture, stewardship, EU


Agricultural policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic are now faced with fundamental pressures and choices about farming and the environment. Member states of the European Union (EU) are attempting to shape new policies in implementation of the Agenda 2000 reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the US is beginning active debate on a new farm bill. On the European side of the Atlantic, Agenda 2000 reforms are being influenced heavily by the concept of 'multi-functionality'. The Rural Development Regulation, essentially a second CAP pillar, allows EU member states to shift some of their CAP funds to rural development and agri-environmental programs. Consequently, there is likely to be major expansion of environmental stewardship programs in Europe as EU members redirect funds from commodity support programs to programs more directly supportive of environmental and rural development objectives. The United Kingdom (UK) government, for example, plans to shift 2.5% of all direct payments to farmers under CAP commodity regimes to rural development and agri-environment initiatives in 2001 with this proportion to rise gradually to 4.5% in 2005 and 2006 (MAFF, 1999, p. 5). France is being more progressive, with a shift of 20% into its Rural Development Regulation budget. Discussion of such funding shifts to agri-environmental programs is less advanced on the US side of the Atlantic. However, some agricultural policy proposals are beginning to move in this direction. The Conservation Security Program (CSP) advocated by Senator Harkin, of Iowa, and others is perhaps the best recent example of a stewardship payment program-type proposal. That proposed program, consisting of several tiers of payments to farmers for different levels of conservation, would go considerably beyond programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and its predecessors. In this paper, we draw on our recent review of agri-environmental programs in the UK (and comparison to programs in the US) to examine key issues associated with a major expansion of stewardship payment programs on both sides of the Atlantic. First, we briefly describe the concept of multi-functionality that is now driving dialogue in Europe on the next generation of agricultural and environmental policies. Then we briefly describe our proposal for a major new agri-environmental initiative to promote legume-based rotations in arable (crop) areas. The main body of the paper is then devoted to an examination of key issues and challenges associated with a major expansion of stewardship payment programs on both sides of the Atlantic.


Department of Economics, South Dakota State University

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