Agricultural policy; Monitoring and evaluation

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Efficient agricultural policies are essential to meeting increasing demand for safe and nutritious food in a sustainable way. While growth in demand for food, feed, fuel and fibres presents significant opportunities for agriculture, government policies must address challenges such as increasing productivity growth, enhancing environmental performance and adaptation to climate change, and improving resilience of farm households to market shocks brought on by weather and other unforeseen circumstances.

Policy evaluation provides needed evidence for governments to ensure that their agri-food policies address these challenges well. Efficient policies clearly separate targeted measures that provide income support to farm households in need, from measures that support increased farm productivity, sustainability, resilience and overall profitability.

Countries have substantially altered their agricultural trade and domestic support policies over the past two decades. In some countries, support provided to farmers has become more decoupled from production– meaning that many farmers no longer receive payments for producing a specific commodity – and instead has begun to target environmental outcomes. But in some developed countries, support remains high and linked to production, while some emerging economies have also significantly increased policy interventions that distort production decisions. In both cases, support could have been better targeted atpublic services that benefit producers, consumers and society overall.

The OECD publishes an annual Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation report, which provides up-to-date estimates of government support to agriculture for all OECD and the European Union as a whole, plus key emerging economies. The 2019 edition includes Argentina, Brazil, People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Ukraine, and Viet Nam.

Prior to being included in the annual report, countries generally undergo an in-depth country review which discusses in detail strengths and weaknesses of both the country’s agricultural sector and its agricultural institutions and policy environment. The subsequent partnership for the annual report builds on these studies to follow agricultural policy developments. Countries also provide important peer review of both policy data and analyses in the report.

Data underpinning the report come from the OECD producer and consumer support estimates (PSE and CSE) database. The OECD uses a standardised methodology to create this set of agricultural support indicators that allow for comparison of agricultural support between countries, and over time. This methodology is continuously updated and refined to maintain and improve its relevance in a changing policy environment.

The OECD is also a founding member and partner in the International Organisations Consortium for Measuring the Policy Environment for Agriculture, which is working to develop a harmonised and consolidated database of well-documented agricultural support indicators for an even larger set of countries.

A Guest Editorial