Using a decomposition method, this paper proposes an analytical framework to investigate the mechanisms by which agricultural support policies affect farmers’ use of fertilizers in agriculture in China. The mechanisms are decomposed into “three effects” (structural, scale, and technological effects). It is found that China’s agricultural support polices have significantly contributed to the increased use of agricultural fertilizers through encouraging farmers to bring more land under cultivation (the scale effect). Meanwhile, some policies have also helped reduce fertilizer consumption when farmers were motivated to increase the area of grains crops (the structural effect). The role of technological progress in affecting fertilizer consumption (the technological effect) appears to be minimal and uncertain. Compared to direct subsidies, indirect subsidies play a much greater role in affecting farmers’ production decision making and are more environmentally consequential. This paper argues that some of China’s agricultural support policies are not well aligned with one key objective of the country’s rural policies—improving environmental sustainability. It is recommended that the government takes measures to reform agricultural support policies and to reconcile agricultural and rural policies in order to achieve sustainable rural development.
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Wang, Enru; Wu, Yinhao; and Miao, Changhong, "Fertilizer Use in China: The Role of Agricultural Support Policies" (2019). Geography & Geographic Information Science Faculty Publications. 11.