At the beginning of the 1970s, the Swiss public was shocked by reports in news media on the subject of ecological problems resulting from agricultural activities. Since then, measures to improve integration and promote environmental awareness have been implemented, hesitantly at first due to political opposition, and then more decisively with the agricultural policy reform AP 2002. An initial analysis of the impacts of these measures reveals a significant decrease in the use of fertilisers and pesticides. There has been a marked rise of the surface of ecological compensation as well as of the percentage of the agricultural surface cultivated according to the rules of the integrated production (IP) or the ecological production. To start with, the reforms focused on rapid, widespread adoption of the ecological schemes. However in future, more attention should be paid to efficient application of the funds expended to attaining ecological objectives on both national and regional levels. If the aspect of efficiency is neglected, the agro-environmental measures will lose the legitimisation by society as well as the acceptance by international organisations.
Thanks to their unique landscapes, the 15 Swiss parks, the majority of which are located in the (pre-)Alps and in the Jura Arc, feature as tourist attractions. But do the parks also provide economic value-added for local agriculture?
To balance their nutrient cycles, Swiss farms export surplus farmyard manure to farms with free uptake capacities or to composting and anaerobic digestion facilities. Between 2015 and 2020 the volumes of organic manure and recycled fertilisers transported rose significantly, with a consequent increase in transport costs.
Employment in the agricultural sector is declining in many European countries, especially in livestock farming. Direct payments can counter this trend and lead to the employment of more – especially female – family members on the farm.