Wednesday, June 1, 2011

An economic analysis of the possibility of reducing pesticides in French field crops
Abstract: The paper aims to study the effects of reducing pesticide use by farmers in the arable sector in France and the feasibility of a policy target of reducing pesticide use by half. The originality of the approach is to combine statistical data and expert knowledge to describe low-input alternative techniques at the national level. These data are used in a mathematical programming model to simulate the effect on land use, production and farmers' income of achieving different levels of pesticide reduction. The results show that reducing pesticide use by 30% could be possible without reducing farmers' income. We also estimate the levels of tax on pesticides necessary to achieve different levels of reduction of pesticide use and the effect of an incentive mechanism combining a pesticide tax with subsidies for low-input techniques.

With 2006 prices the model solution produced a reduction of 9% in the use of pesticides. For reductions of up to 30%, targets can be achieved without completely disrupting production systems: achieving these levels mainly necessitates a switch from “logical” agriculture (T1) toward crops managed in integrated production (T2). Beyond this level, the changes required are more substantial. To reach a target of 50% reduction, “logical agriculture” disappears almost completely and integrated production with or without changes in crop rotation becomes the dominant mode of cultivation. Organic production (T4) develops on 13% of the areas. With 2007 prices for a pesticide use reduction target of 50%, “logical” production (15%) resists best, while organic farming drops to 8%.

... For a target reduction of 50% in the use of pesticides, production drops by 12% from its current situation whereas margins drop by only 5%. This is due to the efficiency gain in the solution generated with the model. Compared to the optimized solution, margins drop by 9%.

[In the next] ... simulation, tax receipts are returned uniformly to farmers according to the size of farms. This measure is therefore neutral in terms of budget equilibrium and the full product of the tax goes back to the farmers. It compensates for the reduction in revenue caused by the tax.

... With 2006 prices, a reduction of nearly 10% is achieved with a zero tax level, as a result of a gradual reduction in the previously analysed inefficiency. A level of 16% is sufficient to produce a reduction of 20%. But the level reaches 100% for a reduction target of 30% and 180% for a target of 50%. Because of high tax rates, margins before redistribution drop steeply, 16% for a 30% target reduction in the use of pesticides, and 30% for a target of 50%. After redistribution, the drop in margins for a target of 50% is only 5% compared to the current situation and 9% compared to the optimized situation.

With 2007 prices, in order to reach a reduction of 50% the tax rate rises as high as 250%. In fact, the results of this tax with redistribution are very close to the results obtained with the previous model, which provided the optimal solution in order to satisfy the constraints for a reduction in the use of pesticides. This demonstrates that the distortions introduced by this taxation system are quite low. Compared to the solution obtained with the constraint of reducing pesticides by 50%, the taxation system is slightly more in favour of systems with low pesticide input: organic farming represents 15% (against 13% in the previous model). The drop in production is therefore slightly greater and margins are slightly lower than in the model with optimisation under constraint.

Table 7 provides the results of subsidies to organic farming combined with a tax in a scenario where €140/hectare is paid for organic farming.... The organic farming fraction increases in all situations and reaches 24% when associated with a pesticide reduction target of 50%. This has the effect of reducing the tax needed to reach such a level of pesticide use reduction. So that, with 2006 prices, the tax is only (compared to the figures obtained without organic farming subsidies) to 60% for a 40% pesticide reduction and 138% for a 50% pesticide reduction.
by Florence, Jacquet a , Jean-Pierre, Butault a, Laurence, Guichard b
a UMR Economie Publique, INRA-AgroParisTech, Grignon, France
UMR Agronomie, INRA-AgroParisTech, Grignon, France
Ecological Economics via Elsevier Science Direct,
Article In Press Corrected Proof, Available online May 26, 2011
Pesticide use; Policy incentive; Environmental indicators; Low-input techniques
A full free version of the paper is currently available at:

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