Menguzzato, Angela (2008) Analisi comparata delle esternalit√† ambientali dell'agricoltura biologica e convenzionale mediante benefit transfer. [Ph.D. thesis]
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After world war II, in developed countries the growth in agricultural activities has been pushed by technological change. Machinery and chemical inputs, irrigation, plant and animal breeding were the main drivers of agricultural productivity growth.
While modern agriculture has succeeded in making large quantities of goods available at reasonable prices, the environment has suffered dramatic changes which can be seen as a cost for the society.
Consequently, it is important to understand the role of multifunctionality in agriculture and its effect on the environment. Human activities have great responsibilities in changing relationships between environment and agriculture. In fact, agronomical practices and intensive use of mechanical and chemical inputs interact with different resources and change the quality of them.
Biodiversity, water and air quality are especially affected by soil management practices. In other words, each farmer trough its activities, may impact the welfare of others, i.e. by reducing the welfare of overall society. Farmers are not likely to take into account the spill over effects of their production decisions unless appropriate policies are introduced. As a matter of fact, the evaluation of agricultural externalities is both intricate (because the different environmental components interact in complex ways) and policy relevant matter.
Even thought agricultural externalities have been widely studied by many authors in the past, and in most cases the focus was on its technical characteristics more than on the economics of it.
While it is fairly undisputed that agricultural activities are associated with relevant environmental externalities, there is no consensus on how organic production methods compare to conventional practices.
In this work an evaluation of environmental externalities produced by agriculture is carried out, using the benefit transfer methodology, in order to point out the differences between conventional and organic practises. The wiliness to pay (WTP) in Veneto for biodiversity, soil and water quality, has been estimated. The results showed that in Veneto the WTP for the water would be around 50-54 euro/ha, for the soil would be around 46-49 euro/ha and for the biodiversity would be around 27-28 euro. Finally, considering these data, it was possible to estimate a range for the vale of the benefits provided by farming organically.
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