Article

Agricultural Subsidies and the Environment

Heather Williams

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science


Published online August 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780199389414 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199389414.013.310

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  • Politics
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Worldwide, governments subsidize agriculture at the rate of approximately 1 billion dollars per day. This figure rises to about twice that when export and biofuels production subsidies and state financing for dams and river basin engineering are included. These policies guide land use in numerous ways, including growers’ choices of crop and buyers’ demand for commodities. The three types of state subsidies that shape land use and the environment are land settlement programs, price and income supports, and energy and emissions initiatives. Together these subsidies have created perennial surpluses in global stores of cereal grains, cotton, and dairy, with production increases outstripping population growth. Subsidies to land settlement, to crop prices, and to processing and refining of cereals and fiber, therefore, can be shown to have independent and largely deleterious effect on soil fertility, fresh water supplies, biodiversity, and atmospheric carbon.

Keywords: agricultural policy; land use; soil loss; climate change; biofuels; subsidies

Article.  10280 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Politics ; Environmental History ; Management of Land and Natural Resources (Social Science) ; Environmentalist Thought and Ideology (Social Science) ; Agriculture and Farming ; Environmental Economics

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