Research Handbooks on Impact Assessment series
Edited by Claire A. Dunlop and Claudio M. Radaelli
Chapter 15: Agriculture
This chapter examines the challenges of applying ex ante analysis to agricultural policy. It does so through the lens of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, which throws up many relevant problems that may also be common in other political jurisdictions. The chapter highlights the complexities of agricultural policy rooted in a decision-making environment that encompasses the actions of individual farmers through to international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) each with different interests, and the significant spillovers into other policy areas such as the environment, trade and energy. While there is plenty of analysis on the economic impacts of agricultural policy that can be drawn into impact assessment (IA) analysis, data gaps on social and to a lesser extent environmental impacts do present some challenges. Moreover, agricultural policy-making is highly politicized with many different actors pushing for wholly different, often conflicting directions from liberalization of the sector through to protection of rural economies. The difficulties of navigating these different actor interests can hamper the rigorous use of IA to develop policy. Ultimately, the chapter concludes by arguing that given the complex context of agricultural policy, more systematic use of IA is especially needed to promote learning and dialogue amongst policy-makers and wider stakeholders.
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