When analysing government policy, it is often helpful to distinguish between two elements which are essential parts of any policy. These elements are:
· Policy objectives. These are the "ends" of a policy and reflect the overall purpose or long-term aim(s); they are what the policy is intended to achieve (e.g. more beef exports or fairer access to grazing lands).
· Policy instruments. These are the "means" of a policy, the actions used to carry it out and the methods by which its objectives are achieved (e.g. import tariffs on dairy products or a subsidy on an artificial insemination service).
The distinction is useful because the same objective can often be served by several alternative instruments. It is only by distinguishing between objectives and instruments that one can begin to assess the relative efficiency of different instruments. Conversely, a single policy instrument may affect several policy objectives. For example, an instrument used to raise dairy prices will normally affect the welfare of producers and consumers as well as the level of milk production.