Farm functionality changes in relation to changes in Agricultural policies

Peter Stubkjær Andersen, Henrik Vejre, Tommy Dalgaard, Jesper Brandt

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Changes in European agriculture over the last 70 year have frequently been labelled with the keywords intensification, specialisation and concentration. A variety of empirical studies of the development in farm characteristics and landscape structures have been undertaken to describe the change in details. The structural changes in agriculture are well accounted for in national and European statistics, however changes in farm functions have also occurred. It has been suggested that European agriculture nowadays are undergoing changes from monofunctional focus on production to a wider multifunctional scope. The objective of increased agricultural multifunctionality has been included actively in EU agricultural policies which may be one of the drivers behind changes. However, from a functional point of view, these changes have are not precisely accounted for or quantified.
The paper presents a functional focused analysis of the temporal changes in four selected farm functions – production, residence, habitat and recreation. The studies are based on data from an interview study conducted in the end 1990s and in 2008 in three study area in Denmark. To quantify the functional changes an indicator-based method for quantifying farm functionality developed by Andersen et al. (2013) in employed.
The functional changes in the four selected functions vary with farm size and the occupational status of the farm. For all farms in the study areas the production function is generally weakened, the residence function is strengthened, and the habitat and the recreation function are unchanged. This trend is also true for small, hobby farms whereas for big, full-time farms the production function is strengthened. In terms of multifunctionality the results suggest a general decrease in the balanced focus on the different functions over the decade in focus. These results are driven by an increase in unilateral focus from the different farm types and may be interpreted as a trend towards increased segregations of the countryside.
The changes found in the study represents snapshot in time as only functional results from two times are included. Thus, further monitoring of the functional changes is needed to confirm the identified trends as these may change in other directions. Nevertheless, future agricultural policy development in the EU may benefit from taking both structural and functional considerations into account.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLand Use Policy
Number of pages32
Publication statusSubmitted - 2015

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