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Controlling Agricultural Emissions of Nitrates: Regulation versus Taxes

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  • Breda Lally
  • Brendan 'Riordan

    (Department of Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway)

  • Thomas van Rensburg

    ()
    (Department of Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway)

Abstract

Two policy instruments, input taxes and regulations, can be used to deal with nitrate pollution. However, in practice command and control (CAC) measures such as input regulations and management practices, as outlined in Action Programmes under the EU Nitrates Directive (Council Directive of 12 December 1991 concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources (91/676/EEC), rather than economic instruments, are commonly used to deal with nitrate pollution from agricultural sources. Action Programmes are meant to ensure that the applications of nitrogen to farmland are within limits calculated to avoid a level of nitrate emissions to water supplies that would put them above the concentration limit of 50mg/litre specified in the Directive. The premise of the Action Programmes is that farmers should take all reasonable steps to prevent or minimise the application to land of fertilisers in excess of crop requirements. To this end the Irish Action Programme specifies that the amount of livestock manure applied in any year to land on a holding, together with that deposited on land by livestock, cannot exceed an amount containing 170kg nitrogen per hectare (ha) and also sets limits on the application of inorganic (manufactured) nitrogen. However, the objective of the Nitrates Directive, at least in terms of organic and inorganic nitrogen application rates, could theoretically be achieved by imposing a tax on nitrogen inputs. This paper tests the hypotheses that the objectives of the Nitrates Directive, in terms of organic and inorganic N application rates, would be more effectively and more equitably achieved by regulation, than by a tax. The results of the analysis indicate that this is the case.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National University of Ireland Galway, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 122.

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Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision: 2007
Handle: RePEc:nig:wpaper:0122

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  1. Rigby, Dan & Young, Trevor, 1996. "European Environmental Regulations to Reduce Water Pollution: An Analysis of Their Impact on UK Dairy Farms," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 23(1), pages 59-78.
  2. Berentsen, P. B. M. & Giesen, G. W. J., 1995. "An environmental-economic model at farm level to analyse institutional and technical change in dairy farming," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 153-175.
  3. RĂ¼diger Parsche & Doina Maria Radulescu, 2004. "Taxing Means of Agricultural Production in Germany: A Relatively High Tax Burden Compared to Other Important EU Competitors," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 2(2), pages 48-54, 07.
  4. Horner, G.L. & Corman, J. & Howitt, R.E. & Carter, C.A. & MacGregor, R.J., 1992. "The Canadian Regional Agriculture Model Structure, Operation and Development," Papers 1-92, Gouvernement du Canada - Agriculture Canada.
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