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The effectiveness of marked-based instruments to foster the conservation of extensive land use: The case of Geographical Indications in the French Alps 2015

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Pénélope Lamarque, Eric F. Lambin
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Consumers express a growing interest for local and quality foods certified by their origin and their environmental production standards. This has led to the emergence of certified products meeting sustainability criteria. Because consumers are willing to pay a price premium for sustainably produced commodities, these certifications act as market-based instruments to promote sustainable land use. Among Geographical Indications (GIs) labels, the two European Union GIs – called Protection of Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protection of Geographical Indication (PGI) – can be considered as agricultural product certification. These GIs identify a good as originating from a region where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is attributable to its geographical origin. Land use is potentially affected by GIs because product characteristics are associated with the biophysical attributes ofthe terroir and some product specifications relate to land management practices. Little empirical evidence substantiates the claim that GIs have an impact on land use. The objective ofthis study was to understand whether Geographical Indications are an effective market-based instrument to promote conservation of extensive land use practices in marginal mountain areas. We conducted farm surveys along a gradient of GI requirements for the following similar cheese products: Tomme de Savoie PGI, Tomme de Savoie EQC, and Tome des Bauges PDO. We tested the hypothesis that the more stringent PDO requirements were associated with more extensive agricultural practices and provided more benefits to farmers. Results showed that the strict standards of PGI and PDO are associated with greater benefits for farmers and more extensive agricultural practices. In comparison to PGI farmers, PDO farmers obtain higher price premiums and gain more knowledge. More extensive practices are observed on PDO farms butthe differences between labels are minor. Our results also reveal a great variability in agricultural practices among farms of a same label. Farmers have various motivations for labelling their product. 

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