Q180, Q580
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Agricultural market realities and the agri-environmental aspirations of developed countries' governments have merged under political economic influences to create myriad programs that pay established agricultural producers for taking environmentally beneficial actions. Arrived at in piecemeal fashion under disparate driving forces, resultant schemes to pay for so-called “environmental services”1 from agriculture satisfy neither economic nor bureaucratic efficiency criteria.

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This article briefly reviews the major characteristics of past and current public agri-environmental payment programs, outlines problems with these precedents, especially those arising as scientific advancement allows finer designation of multiple environmental services, and proposes future program decision-making possibilities that would better approximate market-like equilibria for public good environmental services from agriculture.

The United States, Canada, European Union (EU), and EU member countries, use a mixture of voluntary incentive-based programs, cross-compliance programs, and limited regulatory programs to create increased harmony between agricultural production...

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