Environmental Impacts of Decoupled Agricultural Support: a Regional Assessment
The recent decoupling of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) support from commodity production represents a radical policy reform because farmers are no longer required to produce commodities to receive support. Consequently agricultural production is likely to decline or change orientation. The question is to what extent production might change and what the impacts on the environment will be? Given the immense diversity of socio-economic and agricultural conditions across the EU, the impacts are likely to vary considerably.The aim of this Working Paper is to evaluate the long-term environmental impacts of decoupling with emphasis on the value of services provided by landscapes. Five representative regions were chosen to capture the diversity of the EU-25. The evaluation is done using the spatial and dynamic Agricultural Policy Simulator model (AgriPoliS) which was extended for this purpose. The principal indicators evaluated were landscape mosaic and biodiversity value, which were complemented with indicators of changes in pollution risk. As expected the impacts of decoupling varied significantly between regions and for varying reasons. The impacts were least in relatively productive regions because most land continued to be used in commodity production. Impacts were greatest in relatively high-cost regions because of homogenization of land-use which influenced both mosaic and biodiversity negatively. Other forms of support such as environmental payments and national support tended however to buffer the negative impacts. The physical characteristics of the landscape were also found to mitigate negative impacts.