The research project deals with the scale and direction of shifts in agricultural production and with the question of the marginalisation of regions. In the project, an in-depth analysis of the development of crop and livestock production, and its potential socio-economic and environmental side-effects in 24 regions in 11 EU member states and Switzerland is carried out. On the basis of the results of a comprehensive statistical analysis the questions of the future of regions with less competitive structures or a lower productivity of land and of rural decline and income alternatives are examined.
The questions addressed with respect to developments in more productive, intensive farming areas are the susceptibility of highly specialized farms, farm debt and environmental concerns. The statistical analyses carried out are based on data from almost 7,000 farm households in 24 European study areas from the Rural Change in Europe project. The data base comprises information for nearly 7,000 farm households from 24 study areas, broadly representative of the different types of rural areas within Europe. In the approach, an attempt is made to link the farm household level perspective with the regional level context and the dimension of policy-making at the national and European (EU) level. The analyses carried out comprise descriptive, factor and cluster analysis.
At the regional level, a polarisation is taking place largely in line with relative competitiveness, and thus at least partly determined by policy. Most obvious is the concentration of intensive livestock units in the northwestern parts of Europe. Most sensitive to developments in agriculture are peripheral areas with a high share of agricultural employment in total employment and with less favourable natural conditions for agricultural production. Traditional small-scale, low-production agriculture in such areas is rapidly becoming marginal.
The common agricultural policy (CAP) has at least partly driven the increasing regional polarisation of agriculture (regional disparity). Efficiency of agricultural production defined on the basis of production costs and returns does not sufficiently take the sustainability of the use of natural resources into account. Agricultural change driven by competitiveness under conditions which have always been largely determined by policy is inconsistent with rural development objectives in many (if not most) rural areas.
|Research | Regional development ||
European Commission, Directorate-General for Agriculture
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