In search of sustainable CAP: : Assessing the environmental impacts of agricultural policy
Agricultural policy can have a major influence on the environmental impacts of agriculture. As farming is a major land use in European Union (EU) these impacts can be significant and widespread. A scoring technique has been developed by the University of Hertfordshire to assess the significance of these impacts in relation to sustainability. This technique is presented in the context of a framework to assess the impacts of agricultural policy. Effect-damage functions, indicators and targets are used and the spatial scale is taken into account to produce a policy performance profile. This is accompanied by an indicator of the quality and confidence of the assessment. The method is able to determine where trade-offs exist between different environmental objectives (e.g. nitrate leaching vs. ammonia emissions) and takes into account local and regional environmental sensitivities. The method has potential to be a valuable tool in the development of a greener Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It may also have potential to support the targeting of agri-environment programmes which can be of both environmental and economic benefit.