Food security payments: refining objectives and using resources more efficiently

Since 2014, the Swiss Confederation has made food-supply security payments to ensure the reliable supply of food to the population. At CHF 1.1 billion per annum, these account for a large proportion of direct payments. Agroscope has now tested the effectiveness of this instrument on behalf of the Federal Office for Agriculture, and is proposing improvements. These involve making objectives more precise and more measurable, as well as more strongly geared to sufficient supply in times of crisis. The availability of production factors – in particular, arable soils, seed and machinery, energy, fertilisers and plant-protection products, know-how – is important. The abolition of the ’accompanying constraint’ such as minimum animal stocking density and incremental subsidisation of biodiversity priority areas is to be examined. The promotion of strategic staple crops such as potatoes, bread grains, sugar beet or oilseed rape and the conservation of arable land are highly effective tools for achieving security of supply. If the objectives focused less on the production of calories and more on the conservation of production factors, the resources thereby freed up could be used to bridge existing target gaps. Furthermore, the evaluation shows that the resources used make a substantial contribution to income security in agriculture, which should be borne in mind when changing the instrument.

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