AS  Vol.10 No.9 , September 2019
Development of Perverse Environmental Subsides for Sheep Production in Iceland
Abstract: Sheep production in Iceland is heavily subsidized with a part of the payments tied to land condition and compliance with sustainable land use according to a Quality Management System (QMS). A large proportion of the rangelands used for sheep grazing are public lands. The paper is based on Land Improvement Plans (LIP’s) and Soil Conservation of Iceland (SCSI) correspondence obtained by appeal under the Information Act. The results show that “green payments” are made for use of land that fails to meet the criteria given for such payments, based on the extent of barren areas, active soil erosion, and vegetation condition. Strong formal objections by the SCSI about the content and implementation of QMS have been ignored. It is further shown that the land use section of the QMS (L-QMS) is non-transparent and not well scientifically grounded. The use of the term “sustainable land use” is confounded when used to justify the use of collapsed ecosystems. The LIP’s show high to extreme grazing intensities on land in poor condition, thus further defying ideas for green subsidy schemes. The investigation reveals serious conflicts between environmental and agricultural sectors, at agency and ministerial levels, which is enhanced by incoherent legislation structures. It is vital to reconstruct the green subsidies for sheep farming in Iceland, based on science and best available information with a much broader stakeholder participation than at present, involving multi-sectoral agencies and scientists, NGO’s, communities, the general public, and land users.
Cite this paper: Arnalds, O. (2019) Development of Perverse Environmental Subsides for Sheep Production in Iceland. Agricultural Sciences, 10, 1135-1151. doi: 10.4236/as.2019.109086.

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