Agriculture and environmental indicators

A coherent way to evaluate the environmental improvements after policy reforms is to monitor indicators. Apart from its work on environmentally harmful subsidies, OECD has developed a set of internationally accepted environmental indicators. In the field of agriculture, the work on indicators has been fruitful and recent publications allow sound country comparisons (OECD, 2001). Consequently, the current CAP reform gives an opportunity to analyse how environmental indicators may change due to the abolition of subsidies that were previously linked to farm output.

OECD (2001) classified agri-environmental indicators according to the following categories:

  • • agriculture in the broader economic, social and environmental view with contextual information (such as agricultural value added, farm employment) and information on farm financial resources (farm income, agri-environmental expenditures);
  • • farm management indicators of whole farms (organic farming, farm management plans), and of nutrient, pest, soil, land, irrigation and water management;
  • • use of farm inputs and natural resources concerning nutrient use (nitrogen balance and efficiency), pesticide use and risk, and water use (water use intensity, water efficiency, water stress); and
  • • environmental impacts of agriculture with respect to soil and water quality, land conservation, greenhouse gases, biodiversity, wildlife habitats, landscape and ecosystem diversity.

In the quantitative analysis, we concentrate on indicators related to soil, water and air, the environmental components which were identified above to be at risk in the European Union due to agricultural production and hence addressed by agri-environmental programmes. The analysis is consistent with the Driving force-Pressure-State-Impact- Response (DPSIR) concept used by the European Environment Agency (2004). This concept resembles the Driving force-State-Response (DSR) model formerly developed by the UNCSD in its work on sustainable development indicators. Originally, the Pressure- State-Response (PSR) model was developed by Rapport and Friend (1979) and subsequently adopted by the OECD’s State of the Environment group.

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