The effect of decoupling on marginal agricultural systems: Implications for farm incomes, land use and upland ecology

Acs, S., Hanley, N. , Dallimer, M., Gaston, K. J., Robertson, P., Wilson, P. and Armsworth, P. R. (2010) The effect of decoupling on marginal agricultural systems: Implications for farm incomes, land use and upland ecology. Land Use Policy, 27(2), pp. 550-563. (doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.07.009)

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In many parts of Europe, decades of production subsidies led to the steady intensification of agriculture in marginal areas. The recent decoupling of subsidies from production decisions means that the future of farming in these areas is uncertain. For example, in the uplands of the United Kingdom, an area important both for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service provision, hill farmers steadily increased stocking densities in response to headage payments but must now reconfigure farm businesses to account for the shift to the Single Farm Payment scheme. We examined hill farming in the Peak District National Park as a case study into the future of marginal agriculture after decoupling. We surveyed 44 farm businesses and from this identified six representative farm types based on enterprise mix and land holdings. We developed linear programming models of production decisions for each farm type to examine the impacts of policy changes, comparing the effects of decoupling with and without agri-environment and hill farm support, and evaluating the effects of removal of the Single Farm Payment. The main effects of decoupling are to reduce stocking rates, and to change the mix of livestock activities. Agri-environmental schemes mediate the income losses from decoupling, and farmers are predicted to maximise take up of new Environmental Stewardship programmes, which have both positive and negative feedback effects on livestock numbers. Finally, removal of the Single Farm Payment leads to negative net farm incomes, and some land abandonment. These changes have important implications for ongoing debates about how ecological service flows can be maintained from upland areas, and how marginal upland farming communities can be sustained.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The research was funded as part of the UK Research Councils’ Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU). RELU is a collaboration between the Economic and Social Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, with additional funding from DEFRA and the Scottish Government holds a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hanley, Professor Nicholas
Authors: Acs, S., Hanley, N., Dallimer, M., Gaston, K. J., Robertson, P., Wilson, P., and Armsworth, P. R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Land Use Policy
ISSN (Online):1873-5754
Published Online:21 September 2009

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