This study explores regional agriculture from the perspective of environmentally friendly agriculture and the meaning of recent policy frameworks. Environmentally friendly agriculture has played an important role in sustaining Japanese agriculture and in enabling farmers to receive consent for supports from consumers or taxpayers.
To begin with, this study clarifies the original meaning of environmentally friendly agriculture. Secondly, this study examines the conditions and policy frameworks required for the spread of environmentally friendly agriculture. Thirdly, this study analyzes the meaning of and issues surrounding the direct payment policy implemented by the Japanese government. Major points of discussion are as follows: (1) the position of environmentally friendly agriculture and direct payment in recent agricultural policies that tend to lean toward enhancing competitiveness, (2) the appropriateness of the premise that agricultural production per se automatically contributes to environmental conservation, (3) eco-consciousness and self-awareness of farmers in order to realize integration of farming and environmental conservation, and (4) beneficiaries of environmental friendly farming and rationality of national budget support.
Our aim was to elucidate the results of and issues surrounding environmentally friendly farming practices in Sado City from the viewpoint of agri-environmental measures. Some municipalities, including Sado City, have executed agri-environmental payments ahead of the national government. We clarified the characteristics of the farming certification system in Sado, the aim of which was to create a rural environment suitable for sustaining the Japanese crested ibis, mainly from the viewpoint of reference level. The reference level is a demarcation of responsibility that farmers have to bear in the form of compliance and society has to bear in the form of public payment. We also estimated agricultural income from environmentally friendly farming practices and the compensation effect of agri-environmental payment. The farming certification system has the following characteristics: clarification and progress of the reference level by controlling the amount of chemicals used, a dual standard of certification (particularly regarding winter-flooding practices), and establishment of grant unit price in consideration of farmers' income compensation. The agri-environmental payment compensated for the income loss caused by the slight decline (dozens of kilograms) of unit yield and the shortage of selling price premium (1,500 yen per 60 kg). Owing to these factors, environmentally friendly farming practices have been widely and rapidly adopted in Sado. However, as certified field areas have slightly decreased in recent years, examination of support measures should be conducted.
In Kansai district of Japan, farmers practice a variety of environmentally friendly farming methods, including organic or natural farming and the decreased use of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan and local governments in Kansai district provide multiple assistance measures for them. This study found that the measures could be classified into four types: “locally limited menu type,” which is linked to direct payment grant; “tax reduction for environmentally friendly farming type;” “human resource development for environmentally friendly farming type;” and “integrated promotion of the distribution mechanism with stakeholders type.” It was clarified that each assistance measure is designed on the basis of the characteristics of each locality and produces consistent results for environmental conservation of local agriculture and revitalization. Further work is needed to clarify publicity and education campaigns aimed at realizing the spread of environmentally friendly farming without depending on financial merit.
EU direct payment schemes have been revised to reinforce environmental requirements for the protection of water quality and biodiversity, and to reduce the income gap between farms in the plains and those in areas with natural constraints. As EU farms would not be sustainable without direct payment to complement their income, the farms are required to respect environmental protection requirements. The objective of environmental policies is to achieve environmental targets. Aside from the popularization of environmentally friendly agricultural practices driven by the direct payment schemes, a new interactive knowledge transfer system is required to enable farmers to adapt to the unique agro-environmental conditions they face.
In this study, we examined the development of Japanese-style direct payment programs and ways to design the programs in future reforms. Three Japanese-style direct payment programs are available: Direct Payment to Hilly and Mountainous Areas, which was established in 2000; Direct Payment for Environmentally Friendly Agriculture, which was introduced in 2011; and Direct Payment for Multi-functionality, which was implemented in 2014. All of them are based on the Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas Basic Act in 1999, the pillar of which is the “multi-functionality” of agriculture to sustain the co-existence of agriculture and the environment. A prerequisite for the concept of multi-functionality to work practically is the continuation of Japanese agriculture with feasible budgetary support. This has been realized somehow to this day. However, the increase in the number of elderly farmers is expected to reduce production rapidly, and international free trade negotiations, such as FTA and TPP, are expected to endanger the production of such main products as rice, milk, and beef. Once production is reduced rapidly, the prerequisite will not be satisfied. In this regard, we should find the best way to use land in terms of not only production but also environmental conservation irrespective of existing farming practices. The new agri-environmental programs should positively promote such changes in land use, and could be named “decoupling in agri-environmental policy.”
The objective of this study was to clarify the theory of primitive accumulation. One clue was the comment made by Professor Seiji Mochizuki that one must read “Configurations of Pre-capitalism” as an introduction to the primitive accumulation theory. This comment enabled the author to perceive primitive accumulation as a historical process that negates the “principle of survival ” of a pre-capitalistic community. The principle of survival means that the purpose of economic activities in a society is to ensure the survival of its members and their reproduction over generations. A pre-capitalistic community is a society that thrives on the basis of the principle of survival. In contrast, primitive accumulation, which leads to the disintegration of a society, is characterized by two stages. First, shared land is confiscated in the initial step of primitive accumulation. Then, primitive accumulation is realized through “the establishment of mechanisms to supply labor force through the production of a relative surplus population, which is driven by the advancement of the organic composition of capital, ” and is equal to the “practical subsumption of labor in capital. ”