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European Pesticide Tax Schemes in Comparison: An Analysis of Experiences and Developments


  • Thomas Böcker

    () (Institute for Food and Resource Economics, University of Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany)

  • Robert Finger

    () (Agricultural Economics and Policy Group, ETH Zürich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland)


Policy measures are needed to reduce the risks associated with pesticides’ application in agriculture, resulting in more sustainable agricultural systems. Pesticide taxes can be an important tool in the toolkit of policy-makers and are of increasing importance in European agriculture. However, little is known about the effects of such tax solutions and their impacts on the environment, farmers, and human health. We aim to fill this gap and synthesize experiences made in the European countries that have introduced pesticide taxes, i.e. , France, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The major findings of our analysis are: (1) overall, the effectiveness of pesticide taxes is limited, but if a tax on a specific pesticide is high enough, the application and the associated risks will be reduced significantly; (2) in all countries, hoarding activities have been observed before a tax introduction or increase. Therefore, short-term effects of taxes are substantially smaller than long-term effects; (3) differentiated taxes are superior to undifferentiated taxes because fewer accompanying measures are required to reach policy goals; (4) tax scheme designs are not always in line with the National Action Plan targets. Low tax levels do not necessarily lead to a reduction of pesticide input and differentiated taxes do not necessarily lead to fewer violations of water residue limits.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Böcker & Robert Finger, 2016. "European Pesticide Tax Schemes in Comparison: An Analysis of Experiences and Developments," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(4), pages 1-22, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:4:p:378-:d:68368

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Theodoros Skevas & Spiro E. Stefanou & Alfons Oude Lansink, 2012. "Can economic incentives encourage actual reductions in pesticide use and environmental spillovers?," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 43(3), pages 267-276, May.
    2. Zilberman, David & Millock, Katti, 1997. "Financial incentives and pesticide use," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 133-144, April.
    3. Falconer, K. & Hodge, I., 2000. "Using economic incentives for pesticide usage reductions: responsiveness to input taxation and agricultural systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 175-194, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Geoffroy Enjolras & Magali Aubert, 2017. "Are EU subsidies a springboard to the reduction of pesticide use?," Post-Print hal-02048321, HAL.
    2. Finger, Robert & Möhring, Niklas & Dalhaus, Tobias & Böcker, Thomas, 2017. "Revisiting Pesticide Taxation Schemes," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 263-266.
    3. Böcker, Thomas Gerd & Finger, Robert, 2016. "A Meta-Analysis On The Own-Price Elasticity Of Demand For Pesticides," 56th Annual Conference, Bonn, Germany, September 28-30, 2016 244871, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    4. Stephen Jess & David I. Matthews & Archie K. Murchie & Michael K. Lavery, 2018. "Pesticide Use in Northern Ireland’s Arable Crops from 1992–2016 and Implications for Future Policy Development," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(8), pages 1-16, August.
    5. Buchholz, Matthias & Peth, Denise & Mußhoff, Oliver, 2018. "Tax or green nudge? An experimental analysis of pesticide policies in Germany," DARE Discussion Papers 1813, Georg-August University of Göttingen, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development (DARE).
    6. Daniel Slunge & Francisco Alpizar, 2019. "Market-Based Instruments for Managing Hazardous Chemicals: A Review of the Literature and Future Research Agenda," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(16), pages 1-20, August.
    7. Ruxandra Malina Petrescu-Mag & Ioan Banatean-Dunea & Stefan Cristian Vesa & Sofia Copacinschi & Dacinia Crina Petrescu, 2019. "What Do Romanian Farmers Think about the Effects of Pesticides? Perceptions and Willingness to Pay for Bio-Pesticides," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(13), pages 1-16, July.
    8. Peth, Denise & Mußhoff, Oliver & Funke, Katja & Hirschauer, Norbert, 2018. "Nudging Farmers to Comply With Water Protection Rules – Experimental Evidence From Germany," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 310-321.
    9. Schmidt, Stefan & Seppelt, Ralf, 2018. "Information content of global ecosystem service databases and their suitability for decision advice," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 32(PA), pages 22-40.
    10. Alessandro Bonanno & Valentina C. Materia & Thomas Venus & Justus Wesseler, 2017. "The Plant Protection Products (PPP) Sector in the European Union: A Special View on Herbicides," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 29(3), pages 575-595, July.
    11. Sijbren Cnossen, 2018. "VAT and agriculture: lessons from Europe," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 25(2), pages 519-551, April.
    12. Piwowar, Arkadiusz, 2018. "The Consumption of Mineral Fertilizers and Herbicides in Poland Against the Background of the European Union," Problems of World Agriculture / Problemy Rolnictwa Światowego, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, vol. 18(33, Part ), March.
    13. Böcker, Thomas & Britz, Wolfgang & Finger, Robert, 2017. "Modelling the Effects of a Glyphosate Ban on Weed Management in Maize Production," 57th Annual Conference, Weihenstephan, Germany, September 13-15, 2017 261982, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).

    More about this item


    pesticide tax; national action plan; pesticide risk indicator; integrated pest management; Sweden; Denmark; Norway; France;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products


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