Simulation Results on the Impact of Changes in the Main EU Policy Tools on Farm Investment Behaviour
This paper completes the comparative analysis of the investment demand behaviour, of a sample of specialised arable crop farms, for farm buildings and machinery and equipment, as a function of the different types and levels of Common Agricultural Policy support, in selected European Union Member States. This contribution focuses on their quantitative interdependence calculating the relevant elasticity measures. In turn, they constitute the methodological tool to simulate the percentage expected change in average net investment levels associated to the implementation of the, recently proposed and currently under discussion, reductions in the Pillar I Direct Payments disbursed under the Common Agricultural Policy. Evidence suggests a statistically significant elastic and inelastic relationship between both types of subsidies and the investment levels for both asset classes in Germany and Italy, respectively. An elastic dependence of investment in farm buildings on decoupled subsidies exists in Hungary while changes in the level of coupled payments appear to translate into less than proportional changes in the demand for both farm buildings and machinery and equipment in France. Coupled payments appear to influence the UK demand for both asset classes in an elastic manner while decoupled support seems to induce a similar effect on investment in machinery and equipment. Since the currently discussed Common Agricultural Policy reform options imply, almost exclusively, a reduction in the level of support granted through Direct Payments, simulated effects were expected to reveal a worsening of the farm investment prospects for both asset types (i.e., a larger negative investment or a smaller positive one). The actual evidence largely respects this expectation with the sole exception of investment in machinery and equipment in France and Italy reaching smaller negative or larger positive levels irrespectively of the magnitude of the implemented cuts in Direct Payments.
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