Since 1993 nature conservation is promoted within the Swiss agricultural policy. In 1997 4,2 % of the direct governmental subsidies to farmers were allocated to ecological compensation measures. Approximately 9 % of the national agricultural surface was managed on a contractual basis. The empirical analysis in the canton Zurich (1996) confirms that the participation of farmers depends mainly on financial decisions. Since the quality of landscape and the biological diversity of the notified areas is often unsatisfactory, the policy as a whole seems not to be effective and efficient. The economic theory of asymmetric information suggests that a combination of action- and result-based incentives is necessary. However, such an optimization of the policy is insufficient. The limitations of the current incentives based on a centralized „top-down policy” are set by the economic particularities of organisms, habitats and landscapes (heterogeneity of sites, physical immobility, partial irreversibility of intensification etc.). What is needed is a „bottom-up steering process” which is participative and sensitive to local situations. Finally, success depends on the agricultural policy as a whole. Nature conservation through economic incentives is only possible if there is a reduction in the relative profitability of food production and no discouragement of the structural changes towards less intensive agricultural production.
The agricultural sector as an aggregate proved resilient to the COVID-19 shock. But how did it impact agribusiness firms within the sector? Using the Swiss case, we provide the first set of evidence on how agri-food importing firms survived the pandemic economically.
Agricultural economics research uses a multitude of methods and approaches to assess existing and new policy measures. This is the basis for agricultural policy that demonstrably makes a difference, i.e. is evidence-based.
Agroscope studied the changes in the agricultural sector over the past twenty years in three Swiss regions and compared them with the visions of three associations: Avenir Suisse, the Schweizer Bauernverband and Landwirtschaft mit Zukunft.