Factors Affecting Farmers' Participation in Agri-Environmental Measures: Evidence from a Case Study
Starting from the McSharry reform in 1992, environmental conservation and minimization of negative agricultural impacts through adoption of agri-environmental farming practices have gained momentum within the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Agenda 2000 and the recent issuing of Regulation 1698/2005 – with its strong accent on CAP’s second pillar – have further emphasized the need to reduce environmental risks within the context of sustainable and integrated rural development. Nowadays, agrienvironmental measures are the only compulsory measure for Member States in the Rural Development Programs. The result of this shift in CAP objectives is the increased agri-environmental spending in the total EU agricultural budget and the parallel growth in farmland enrolled in agri-environment measures throughout Europe in the last decade. Since the start of the new policy trend, the EU has invested considerable effort in monitoring and evaluating its impacts on the various environmental items and progress has been made. However, less is known so far on the factors inducing farmers’ participation in the agri-environmental programs. This paper aims to explore this field taking the Veneto Region of Italy as a case study. The framework for the analysis is represented by the four main agri-environmental actions in place in the Veneto Region in the period 2000-2006, with their main objectives, eligibility criteria, ranking priorities and budget assigned. Farmers’ behavior has been explained via farm characteristics, farmland structure, as well farmers’ socio-economic profile, attitudes and perceptions towards agri-environmental measures. These variables have been collected in a survey of participating and non-participating farmers. This is crucial information that can affect policy success and therefore needed for further policy design.
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