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2.Organic Agriculture Policies as Voluntary Approach: The Roles and Challenges

Yoko Taniguchi (School of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Miyagi University)

This study attempted to discuss organic agriculture in the framework of policy option issue. By regarding the policies related to organic agriculture as "voluntary approach," the study identified several aspects of organic certification system and other related regulations that need to be reviewed, so as to improve their efficacy and efficiency. In contrast to other policy instruments, voluntary approach is said to be flexible and thus easier to introduce, and can achieve environmental goals efficiently if there is reliable "regulatory threat."
Organic agriculture can be considered to be typical voluntary approach since firms and producers have voluntarily employed methods to mitigate environmental damages arising from agricultural practices. Since the existing organic certification system under the JAS Law is not recognized to be a voluntary approach, it is not intended to derive its benefits, such as improvement in farming techniques and awareness-raising of consumers - so-called "soft effects." As the flexibility of compliance is one of the conditions for the voluntary approach to be an efficient policy measure, it should always be borne in mind that participation of firms to the policy making process leads to a successful policy design. In addition, in order to make an organic agriculture policy to be an effective instrument, it is important to examine it as part of "policy mix". It is desirable that other policies related to organic agriculture, such as pesticide residue limits and other food labeling regulations, are designed or redesigned to make sure that they fortify, rather than undermine, the efficacy of organic agriculture policy.

Keywords:Voluntary approach, Organic farming policy, Soft effects, Regulatory threat, Policy mix