The Environment Agency is working to help the agriculture industry change the way it runs its business. We want it to adopt practices and systems that minimise the negative impact of agriculture on the environment and encourage the environmental benefits of the sector.
Economics supports this agenda through analysing the costs, benefits, opportunities and barriers to change and informing policy to promote that change. This agenda is particularly challenging given the perception among the industry that the costs of environmental regulation are rising significantly, while it continues to suffer economic hardship.
Policy instruments for agriculture
Which future combinations of policy instruments will deliver the desired change in behaviour at least cost? Defra are currently attempting to answer these questions. The Economics Team are working to influence Defra’s work and to develop an Environment Agency position on the future use of policy instruments to promote change in environmental performance in the Agriculture sector.
Agriculture & Natural Resources: benefits, costs and potential solutions May 2002
This report provides an economic overview of the relationship between agriculture and the environment. It looks in detail at natural resource issues, society benefits, damage costs, the effectiveness of technical solutions, solution costs and the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential Government policies. Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the report can be downloaded below.
Business As Usual Projection of Agricultural Outputs for the Water Framework Directive Phases 1 and 2
These reports present projections for key agricultural activities to 2015. The findings of the reports are feeding into the Water Framework Directive (WFD) River Basin Characterisation Risk Assessment process , therefore the projections take no account of measures that may be introduced as part of the implementation of the WFD, but includes all other agreed policies and measures.
Phase 1 (completed July 2004) provides projections of estimated % changes in land use area and livestock numbers derived from a combination of extrapolating from historic changes, projections of key drivers and the views of experts and stakeholders. (See parts 1 and 2 below)
Phase 2 (completed April 2006) complements Phase 1 to consider the changes in production practices such as input use and mitigation measures that may influence the environmental impact of agriculture especially the impact on diffuse water pollution.
For further information contact Jonathan.Fisher@environment-agency.gov.uk
Potential Benefits of Resource Efficiency
There may be big gains for farmers and the environment from resource efficiency. Consultants, working for the Environment Agency, have created a database of real world examples of ‘win win’ situations in agriculture.
The objectives of the study were:
- To identify, analyse and summarise (but not create) case studies of improved farm resource management practices, providing both environmental benefits and profits to farmers.
- To assess data the quality and coverage of the case studies, and other relevant considerations, in terms of providing an overall quantitative picture of the potential for such environmental benefits and farming profits in English and Welsh agriculture.
- To provide recommendations for future work.
The Total External Environmental Costs and Benefits of Agriculture in the UK
Production decisions made in the agricultural sector frequently have implications for other parts of society. Often, the nature of those choices means that the preferences of the wider set of stakeholders cannot easily be taken into account. Examples of such decisions include the extent to which a farmer should prevent nutrients escaping into watercourses or the decision to maintain an historic stone wall. This paper presents a summary of the existing data to estimate the total positive and negative impacts made by the agricultural sector to the wider community.
Agricultural Economics Society's 80th annual conference March, 2006: The Sustainable Development of Agriculture in England and Wales
This paper, presented to the Agricultural Economics Society in 2006, gives a summary of work done in the Environment Agency on the external costs and benefits of agriculture and examines these data in light of the existing trends and forecast for the sector.