Institute for environmental Sciences, University of Zurich, Zurich

Ways towards a target oriented Swiss agricultural policy

The obvious need, in the context trade liberalisation, for further reforming public support for agriculture in Switzerland currently generates lively political debates among affected interest groups. However, a basic understanding of the important public-good issues involved is frequently lacking in these discussions. Currently, only a small fraction of the subsidies are tightly linked to explicit public-good agri-environmental services. We argue that future agricultural support will largely depend on whether the agri-environmental services can be well specified and specifically financed. Public support will have to be provided for the specific services demanded by the public in a “political market for public goods”. Farmers as enterpreneurs may participate in this market on their own accord. Departing from established economic concepts and drawing on empirical evidence about Swiss demands for agri-environmental policy, this article aims to contribute towards a demand-oriented agricultural policy.

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