Agri-environmental management contracts
Assessment made on 01 Jan 2001
ClassificationAgriculture (Primary theme)
Policy issue: What environmental protection measures are being taken by the sector?
EU regulations introduced in 1992 and 1999 on rural development include agri-environmental programmes, which compensate farmers for all costs incurred in carrying out environmental improvements on their land.
Improvements can include reducing air, soil, and water pollution, improving biodiversity, adopting organic agriculture, and managing non-farmed land. The new paradigm, therefore, is for farmers to be seen as - and paid to be - managers of Europe's landscape and environment in a broad sense, rather than simply as food producers. Apart from improving the environment, these measures also support other parts of the rural economy - the tourist industry, for example, benefits from improvements to the landscape's attractiveness and increased biodiversity, while many activities, such as landscape management, create local jobs and safeguard traditional skills.
By 1998, one farmer in seven had an agri-environmental contract, with more than a fifth of EU farmland covered. The target for 2000 - 15% of farmland by the year 2000 - was therefore met several years early.
Uptake, however, is uneven - coverage in the new Member States ranges from 64% in Sweden to almost 80% in Austria and Finland, compared to the 9% average across EU12 (excluding Germany). It may be noted that uptake is low in countries with high nitrogen surpluses.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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