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Improving water quality with a territorial agro-environmental policy? Insights from the new generation AES in South-West France

Anne Gassiat, Sylvain Rousset and Frèdèric Zahm

ERSA conference papers from European Regional Science Association

Abstract: This article deals with the Local Agri-Environmental Schemes (LAES), the French contractual policy instrument within the European Rural Development Regulation (2007-2013), designed to improve water quality within priority watersheds. The paper is structured in three parts. The first one focuses on the evolution of the program-theory which underlie the French agri-environmental policy, from a retrospective of the successive national schemes set up since 1985. The second part questions the role of territories and local actors in the program definition and implementation. We question the supposed "territorialization" of LAES, by leaning on a comparative study of the program in three regions of Southwest France. Our first results suggest that beyond the integration of spatial stakes in conformity with the Water Framework Directive, the LAES remains after all little territorialized and can be considered rather as a top-down site-specific pollution control policy. In the last part of the paper, we examine the adoption of LAES by French farmers, with a focus on the role of information, uncertainty and trust in the choice of contract commitment.

Date: 2011-09
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