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To leave or not to leave? Understanding determinants of farmers’ choices to remain in or abandon agri-environmental schemes
- Defrancesco, Edi, Gatto, Paola, Mozzato, Daniele
- Land use policy 2018 v.76 pp. 460-470
- agri-environmental policy, case studies, family farms, farm size, farmers, learning, models, probability, rural areas, Italy
- Effectiveness of Agri-Environmental Schemes (AESs) as tools to enhance the rural environment can be achieved not only by increasing uptake rates, but also by avoiding participating farmers abandoning the scheme once they are in. For this reason, it is important to also consider what affects farmers’ decisions to remain in the scheme rather than leave it at the end of the contractual obligation. However, up to now, there has been very little on this issue in the literature. The paper offers a contribution to this by revealing the role of determinants like the farmer’s and farm structural characteristics, farmer’s learning process, neighbourhood effect and the impact of changes in the policy design on the farmer’s decision to remain in the scheme over a long time scale. This is examined in a long-standing scheme in the case study area, the Veneto Region of Italy. The paper uses duration analysis and is based on longitudinal panel-data of the entire population of 2000–2015 adopters. By using only data available in official regional records, it also provides regional policy-makers with an operational tool that is useful to analyse the impact of their AES design changes. The results of the duration models show that a larger farm size, a younger farmer age, the succession in the family farm, and the farmer’s positive attitude towards the environment, trigger longer durations in AES. Similarly, the impact of the accumulation of the farmer’s experience in the scheme management, as well as the neighbourhood effect increase the probability of remaining. Lastly, the changes in policy tailoring and targeting also have a positive impact on maintaining the farmer in the scheme. The paper concludes by noting that duration analysis can deliver useful results in order to guide policy-makers in the effort to steer higher levels of farmers’ persistence in the scheme and provides some recommendations for a more mature agro-environmental policy design.