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Bringing the neighbors in: A choice experiment on the influence of coordination and social norms on farmers’ willingness to accept agro-environmental schemes across Europe

Villamayor-Tomas, Sergio, Sagebiel, Julian, Olschewski, Roland
Land use policy 2019 v.84 pp. 200-215
agricultural land, conservation programs, ecosystem services, farmers, planting, social behavior, Germany, Spain, Switzerland
This paper aims to shed light on the challenges and opportunities of promoting farmers’ participation in agro-environmental programs at reasonable monetary cost in intensively used agricultural landscapes. On the one hand, the study assesses the costs of coordinating farmers for the implementation of the programs, as a complement or alternative to increasing the amount of land set aside for said programs. On the other hand, the paper responds to recent calls about the need to identify incentives other than monetary payments to promote farmers participation. Methodologically, the study consists of a choice experiment exploring the willingness of farmers in Germany, Switzerland, and Spain to participate in a tree planting measure. According to our findings, the resistance of farmers to participate in coordinated programs is not insurmountable and has to do with transaction costs as well as beliefs about other farmers’ behavior. Similarly, having conservation programs recommended by farmers can encourage other farmers to participate. Finally, different conservation framings can affect the resistance of farmers to participate depending on the emphasis put on the environmental benefits that farmers obtain from the programs. Overall, the findings illustrate the interest of further integrating farmers in the design of agro-environmental schemes and, further testing the feasibility of coordinated schemes in light of the influence of both monetary and social incentives.