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Farmers' acceptance of results-based agri-environmental schemes: A German perspective

Anna Massfeller, Manuela Meraner, Silke Hüttel and Reinhard Uehleke

Land Use Policy, 2022, vol. 120, issue C

Abstract: Results-based agri-environmental schemes (AES) seek to overcome reluctance to adopt other forms of AES in the European Union. Instead of complying with inflexible land management prescriptions, farmers receive payments after certain contracted environmental results are verified. In addition to reducing the organizational and administrative burdens, this practice allows farmers to focus on which practices can achieve the desired environmental outcomes. Farmer uptake of results-based payments may be limited by risk-adverse behavior, such as fear of not meeting environmental targets and forfeiting the contracted payment. This study investigated participation in a hypothetical results-based AES among arable farmers in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the number of hectares enrolled (participation intensity). Our hypothetical scheme sought to foster biodiversity in pollinator and bird species by supporting weed-species richness in intensive arable production. Our split-treatment research design investigated how social nudging influences acceptance and intensity. Approximately 60% of the 63 farmers in our convenience sample expressed a willingness to participate in our hypothetical scheme. Using a Heckman style selection model, we could not detect any effect of the social nudge tested on the likelihood of participation or its intensity. Cognitive factors correlated positively with the likelihood of participation, whereas social and dispositional factors correlated with participation intensity. Perceived lack of control was the main obstacle found to adoption. The findings suggest that policies can mitigate barriers to acceptance by reducing the bureaucratic burden and being transparent over expected costs and ecosystem benefits. This study was the first to investigate farmers' acceptance of a hypothetical results-based AES that targets the enrichment of biodiversity in arable farming and thus may serve as a stepping stone for follow-up studies.

Keywords: Payment by results; Contingent valuation; Heckman selection model; Social nudge; Pollinator conservation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2022.106281

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