From "Reports on Agriculture", March 2003

Reflections on a viable future agricultural environmental programme

Klaus Stern, Wiesbaden

In this study, compiled against the background of the EU´s existing legal and administrative framework conditions, the author presents a basic concept for the possible creation of a viable future agricultural environmental programme. He also includes, where relevant to the complex of agricultural environmental measures, the proposals currently being put forward by the European Commission under its "Mid-Term Review of the Common Agricultural Policy", and refers to the original concept produced by an internal ministerial study group in the Hessian Ministry for the Environment, Agriculture and Forestry. Within the framework of this concept he presents the following hypotheses:

  • In future, as many as possible of the efforts made by agriculture for securing, developing and improving all the environmental resources (soil, water, air/climate, biotope and species diversity, and cultivated landscape (aesthetic impact, recreational potential) should be combined into a single environmental agricultural programme and given due consideration within the constraints of the local regional productive and economic structure.
  • The goals and the essence of agricultural environmental measures will be better served by contractual undertakings rather than by application procedures.
  • Consideration of regional environmental goals is an essential precondition for any purposeful and efficient agricultural environmental programme, and when creating such programmes areas of competence, and the personnel and material resources of the regions, ought also to be included wherever possible.
  • Any agricultural environmental programme must provide for harmonisation of the measures required for achieving regional environmental goals with the areas of competence and the potential of the affected farmers. In this connection, environmental planning and advice to farmers are of crucial importance. Consequently, every agricultural environmental contract should be concluded on the basis of a common or individual farm agricultural environmental programme.
  • In order to achieve maximum flexibility, the agricultural environmental programme should be of modular construction so that, on the one hand, the farmers can compose a body of obligations suitable to their regions and farms and, on the other, however, outdated measures and parcelled performances can be extracted and exchanged for new ones. Green farming should in future be treated separately as a system of operation in its own right, and no longer perceived as being a purely agricultural environmental measure.
  • Agricultural-ecological audit systems ought to be introduced as an important innovation.
  • Remuneration should not be staggered regionally. Only in environmentally sensitive areas (based on the Flora-Fauna-Habitat-Richtlinie (FFH) or water guidelines) should any increased incentive be approved.
  • Agricultural environmental contracts should in principle only be concluded for a period of five years, including, where applicable, provision for an extension of this period. In areas of special ecological sensitivity or value the opposite should also be possible, i.e. the conclusion of a ten-year contract, to include the option of recission after five years. Remuneration under the contract should be frozen over the entire period of its validity.
  • If, at some future time, measures for rural development in general and agricultural environmental programmes in particular should be expanded, and the EU should make more money available, increased funds will be required for national co-financing. These can be obtained by parcelling diverse financial contributions together into a "Farming and Environment" fund.
  • Progress towards an integrated agricultural environmental programme demands the inclusion of every possible support measure of relevance to the environment. Moreover, interfaces to other areas (for example education, marketing) will have to be defined before any integrated farm contracts for facilitating the creation of a mixed bundle of individual farm and/or specific regional measures can be concluded in the foreseeable future.

Economic-ecological modelling of climate-relevant emissions from agriculture at regional level

Georg Bareth und Elisabeth Angenendt, Hohenheim

For the development of strategies to avoid the emissions of GHGs it is essential to identify the sources of the emissions, to characterize the involved processes and to model and estimate the emitted amount of the present situation (reference scenario). The existing emission models on regional level are book-keeping models. They base on calculations using statistical data of various levels which are available for administrative units or result from special questionnaires. The environmental parameters which influence and regulate the emissions from soils are not at all or only very roughly regarded in these models. The integration of the environmental parameters in the regional modeling of the emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture and the simulation of scenarios to avoid these emissions is the precondition for the implementation of such strategies in agriculture. Therefore, a GIS and knowledge based agricultural environmental information system for the emission of greenhouse gases was linked with an economic-ecological farm model for a dairy farm region in southern Germany. Apart from the spatial emissions from agricultural soils it is possible to calculate the emissions very detailed with the farm model. The AEISE enables the spatial estimation of CO2, CH4 and N2O. For the regional economic-ecological farm modeling, one community is regarded as one farm. The comparison of the results with and without the consideration of the results of the spatial approch shows how important the integration of the environmental parameters could be. The overall emission is around 2 tons CO2-Equivalents ha-1yr-1 higher when the spatial parameters are not regarded properly in the farm model.

Estimating the economic impact of the conversion of a cash-crop region to organic farming

Ika Darnhofer, Michael Eder and Walter Schneeberger, Wien

Organic farming has the potential to make an important contribution to environmentally sensitive food production. However, only a small fraction of Austrian cash-crop farms follows organic production practices. This study analyses the effects of a widespread conversion to organic farming in the Weinviertel, a region dominated by field crops, on the production program, the quantities produced and the direct payment measures. Farms typical for the region were identified using the Integriertes Verwaltungs- und Kontrollsystem (INVEKOS) data. Through linear planning models scenarios were calculated, accounting for various assumptions regarding product prices and environmental protection requirements. Given the current prices for organic products, the results show that, despite the lower yields, the value of the produce increases, as does the total gross margin of the farm types considered in the study. Despite direct payments for organic farming, however without price premiums for organic products, several farm types face lower gross margins than under conventional production practices. If the price premiums can be sustained even after the widespread conversion to organic farming, the increase in total gross margin of the region is higher than the increase in direct payment requirements. Additional environmental protection measures, which are included in one scenario, result in lower total gross margins even if the price premiums for organic products can be maintained.

RAALSA: A Regionalised Agricultural Sector Model for Estimation of Structural Change in the Austrian Alps

Franz Weiß, Wien, Erwin Schmid, Columbia and Michael Eder, Wien

In the course of the research project RAALSA we tried to develop a concept for a sector model, which could simulate income-effects of price changes or political measures at the farm and regional level, and estimate structural change endogenously. The concept was then applied for the territory of the Austrian Alps. The model is based on typical farms and weight-vectors, which create a virtual farm structure. This virtual farm structure is supposed to give a good representation of the actual farm structure in the territory. We estimate typical farm incomes with linear programs, and from these incomes we derive changes in the weight-vectors by implementing the results of an inquiry. These adjustments in the weight-vectors finally allow us to make some statements on structural changes.

Co-operation between agriculture and water management in the Stever reservoir catchment area - advice and its results

Reinhard Mantau, Coesfeld

Since 1989, agriculture and water management have been co-operating in the Stever reservoir catchment area with a view to minimising the pollution of surface water (raw water) through farming. This co-operation is based on a problem-orientated advisory concept produced by the Westphalia-Lippe Chamber of Agriculture.

After twelve years, the effectiveness of this scheme has become evident in the improvement effected in the quality of the raw water. Its nitrate content in the catchment area has remained constant, or has become slightly reduced (< 25 mg/l). Pollution of the water by pesticides is now negligible. Moreover, the advisory service has developed an - environmental and quality-management system - definable in the following terms:

  • orderly farming (id est in keeping with the law),
  • good farming practice (bringing the law into effect using the accumulated experience of the farmers),
  • agricultural engineering skills (using the advisory service to translate scientific discoveries into practical applications),
  • integrated plant cultivation (purposeful harmonisation of manuring, plant protection, crop rotation and other elements to promote their effectiveness),
  • use of state-of-the-art technology and
  • rapid communication of information to farmers via modern media (info-fax and e-mail).

In this context, economics and ecology are only two sides of the same coin. Farmers have meanwhile become convinced of the effectiveness of this concept, especially in view of the far-reaching and cost-effective approaches made towards solving their problems. Water managers are content with the quality of their raw water.

The advisory service concept has proved its worth as a means of resolving the conflict. The path now being trodden must be adhered to in the long term so that farming and water management can together provide for both permanent protection of the environment and economic progress.

Diversity of customers requires diversity of markets - a study on the potentials of fourdifferent shopping facilities for organic food -

Martina Schäfer, Berlin

The project "Ways to promote ecologically sound food products in the Berlin-Brandenburg region" tested four different shopping facilities for organic food with respect to their ability to attract new consumers. We chose a food coop selling to members only, a weekly open market, an eco-supermarket selling only organic food, and an organic products section of a regular warehouse. The basic idea of the project was that in order to promote the consumption of organic food it is necessary to develop strategies for diffusing both the products and the ´ideas´ connected to these products. Besides classical marketing measures related to products, prices, staff and communication it is therefore essential to think about strategies for diffusing the ´ideals´ aligned with organic agriculture and a sustainable food culture. These strategies have to go beyond the traditional ways of advertising and public relation.

The results of an extensive survey with consumers who buy organic food show that weekly markets can strengthen their profile as "event-shopping-facilities". Coops have a strength in being stores with a personal atmosphere, mainly frequented by price-aware families. Eco-supermarkets may improve their image located between that of a regular supermarket and a traditional organic food store. Organic sections of regular warehouses have an advantage in being a one-stop-shopping facility with high quality goods. At open weekly markets the direct contact to the producers is possible - they therefore are suited best for spreading information and creating emotional impressions. However, in the long run their economic situation may be at risk. Eco-supermarkets and the coops have potentials for further diffusing both products and ideas. Organic sections of regular warehouses have only little potential for diffusing information and ideas.

Besides information on consumption habits, motivations and attitudes of consumer groups in the four shopping facilities, the article outlines strategies for marketing and diffusion of ideas.

Welfare economy of generic advertising - a normative and empirical analysis-

Klaus Hoff, Bingen

Farmers and government institutions spend considerable amounts to finance the activities of generic advertising. Many analyses show the efficiency of these measures from the agricultural point of view when they are "properly" designed. But contributions financed by parafiscal duties and taxes should not only be sensible from an individual economic view but also from a social point of view. Focus is more and more on discussions about an assessment of generic advertising in regard to welfare economy. Based on an analysis of literature on welfare economic assessment of advertising by monopolists, assessment concepts for generic advertising will be introduced. The normative analysis shows that certain forms generic advertising will always lead to losses in welfare. Even if generic advertising is by its contents "properly" designed in regard to positive effects of welfare, losses in welfare are to be expected or are feasible depending on the institutional organisation of generic advertising. In certain forms of organisation generic advertising results in an allocation in favour of inefficient enterprises and to the debit of efficient ones. Generic advertising without legal restrictions may lead to an over-advertising from a social point of view - exactly as in a monopoly or oligopoly. The different approaches of assessment will be quantified by example of generic marketing activities in the German beef market.

Equality for man and animal - A common-sense criticism of this animal rights concept

Franz Kromka, Stuttgart-Hohenheim

On 17th May 2002, an overwhelming majority of the German Bundestag voted in favour of the incorporation of animal protection into the Basic Law as a national goal. Surveys have shown that this reflected the ethical concepts of well over 80% of the population. But the quasi entrenchment of animal protection into our constitution cannot, however, be the end of this matter. On the contrary, it presents the opportunity for continued improvements in animal welfare, especially with regard to productive livestock.

In the study under review, the author has assumed the necessity for such improvements. However, he criticises the utilitarian demand, essentially formulated by Peter Singer, that animals capable of suffering, and at the same time of showing interest, should be placed on an equal ethical footing with mankind. For Tom Regan, this postulation of the equality of man and animal now forms the specific basis for his concept of animal rights. Regan pleads for the granting of subjective rights to the more highly developed animals, namely mammals, i.e. their acceptance into the human legal community. But no matter how beneficial this animal rights concept might appear to be for animals, its implementation would be a disaster. Quite apart from the difficult, or even insurmountable, problems it would raise, not least for farmers engaged in productive livestock rearing, the main point is that it would lead to a breach of one of the central stipulations of the legal community in that, although animals may indeed be granted rights, which would in the long term (!) have to be guaranteed by trustees, their nature precludes them from assuming any obligations. The symmetry between rights and obligations, which characterises our legal community, would, in the case of animals, be rescinded, thus placing a question-mark against it, both in general and fundamental terms.

Taken overall, the introduction of animal rights is a counterproductive undertaking. The goals of these animal rights supporters can also be achieved through the medium of appropriate animal protection regulations. In this article, the author provides a pointer to such regulations.

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