Regional impacts of abolishing direct payments: An integrated analysis in four European regions
The direct payment system of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) provides income transfers to European farmers. Recently, several countries including England and Sweden have advocated the elimination of direct payments after 2013. The extent to which an elimination of direct payments would affect the land use dynamics in Europe including impacts on structural change and the environment has not been addressed in the existing literature. In this paper, we combine participatory methods, to analyze regional preferences for functions and effects of agriculture, and farm-level modeling, to assess the impacts of such a policy change on farm structures and land use intensities in four European regions located in Germany, Denmark, Italy and Poland, each with different socio-economic and biophysical characteristics. In each region, the entire farm population consisting of different farm types with different production orientations and land management types was modeled under the presence and absence of direct payments using a combination of agent-based and bio-economic modeling. We found that the initial characteristics of the regions, such as the historical farm structure and regional site conditions, greatly influence the impact of direct support elimination and cause regionally different development trends. The results for the four regions were summarized in four specific storylines that emphasize how much the diversity of European regions matters for future policy decisions. An explicitly regional focus is, therefore, argued to be crucial to complement future policy analysis.
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