The merging of agricultural and environmental policy : a study of farmers' responses to policy change.
The research aimed to examine the prospects for integration
of agricultural and environmental policy in East Anglia.
Farmers' responses to a less predictable policy environment
and economic pressures are analysed. In addition, their
reaction and attitudes towards recent initiatives with an
environmental dimension, is explored.
A total of 175 farmers were interviewed in 1990 and 1991 in
Norfolk and Suffolk. Farmers were deliberately selected
who control large areas of land, and who produce large
volumes of outputs. The response of these farmers to an
integrated agricultural and environmental policy is very
important. Unless large farmers are persuaded to take up
an initiative, its impact will be significantly diminished.
The thesis begins by exploring the policy background in the
UK and the EEC, as a context for the research. Pressures
to change the course of agricultural policy, and
incorporate environmental considerations, are analysed.
Initiatives that have the potential to integrate these two
policy arms are also examined. In addition, other
pressures impacting on farmers and their decision making,
notably economic and structural influences, are brought
into the study. Theoretical and methodological issues are
addressed - the research encompasses both structural and
There is considerable difference within and between regions
in the study area in terms of farmer response to policy
initiatives. Strategies have been developed as a result of
economic pressures and policy changes, making use of
regional and physical features, especially soils. External
capital has reinforced these differences. Only where an
integrated policy can be adapted to fit into existing
farming strategy is there a realistic prospect of
successful take up. Although these farmers, controlling
large areas of land, adopt regionally different strategies,
they will not readily abandon them to change to untried and
untested methods of farming. There is little prospect of
widespread convergence of agricultural and environmental
policy in the wider countryside