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Willingness to pay for environmental effects of agroforestry systems: a PLS-model of the contingent evaluation from German taxpayers’ perspective (2020)

Otter V., Langenberg J.

Agroforestry Systems, 94 (3), 811-829



The standards of society with regard to agricultural land use have risen during the course of time. A method of management is increasingly being demanded that, alongside the production of food, also benefits the environment and society. Alley cropping agroforestry systems can make a contribution to supporting this demand, since they offer many environmental advantages and also enhance the landscape. In Germany, alley cropping systems in agriculture have only been of low-level importance, since the scale of planting has been restricted to just a few test areas. The reasons for the reticence among farmers to implement alley cropping are likely to lie in the economic disadvantages of agroforestry compared to full area field cultivation. With the aid of financial support, incentives could be created that encourage farmers to establish agroforestry systems. However, potential subsidies should be provided that take into account societal preferences, in order to be able to publicly legitimise them. The aim of this article is therefore to analyse and quantify the level of willingness to pay and its determining factors from the perspective of German taxpayers. To achieve this aim, a complex socio-economic research model has been developed on the basis of the contingent evaluation method and concepts for consumer awareness of sustainably produced food products. The primary data collected on the basis of this research framework from 1714 taxpaying individuals living in Germany was evaluated using descriptive statistics, t-tests, and the partial least squares (PLS) method. The descriptive results show that 65.1% of the respondents have an additional willingness to pay. Of the remaining respondents who were not willing to pay, 75.7% regard agroforestry systems as being useful, but are not willing to pay higher amounts of tax to subsidise them. Throughout the entire sample, an average willingness to pay of €36.59 (~ US$38.79) per year emerges. Furthermore, the majority of respondents regarded the fulfilment of environmental and nature conservation measures as being the responsibility of agriculture, and the subsidisation of these measures as being the responsibility of the government. The PLS model showed that the assessment regarding secondary tasks of agriculture, including the implementation of environmental and nature conservation measures and the provision of renewable raw materials, has a positive influence on taxpayers’ willingness to pay for environmental improvement through agroforestry systems. Based on these results, a wide range of implications are derived for policy makers, farmers, and various advocacy groups.