Agri-environmental issues are the focus of a growing number and variety of policy measures in OECD countries. Payments and tax rates are increasing, as are the severity and complexity of regulations. Pressure is mounting on governments to evaluate these programmes. How effective have the policies been in achieving their objectives? Are the policy measures used the most efficient at achieving the objective at least-cost to taxpayers and farmers? What have policy makers learnt about the design and implementation of their policies?
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The OECD Workshop on Evaluating Agri-environmental Policies found that different methods of policy evaluation are complementary. Most countries focus on evaluating the environmental effectiveness rather than the economic efficiency of policies, using physical indicators rather than monetary values. Many policies are achieving their environmental objectives, but are taking longer than originally anticipated. The initiative being taken in many countries to incorporate monitoring and data collection into programme design and implementation is a positive development. But a number of steps need to be taken to improve the quality of evaluations, including the better articulation of policy goals and objectives, improving data quality and establishing baselines for comparison.