Project details

Towards a policy model of multifunctional agriculture and rural development – Top-MARD

Multifunctional agriculture is a key issue for EU-25 Agricultural and Rural Development Policies and the Doha Round. This research will develop the concept of multifunctionality as a rural development policy instrument that is sensitive to economic, social, cultural, environmental and geographical framework conditions in an enlarged European Union. It will identify and analyse multiple functions in a range of rural contexts, quantifying production relationships between related public and private goods and services and assessing the linkages between these multiple functions and the development of rural areas and their quality of life and environment, and other important non-market functions and outputs (‘good’ and ‘bad’). It will analyse how multiple functions – and relationships between them – vary as to types and scales of farming, farming ‘styles’, gender and other characteristics of farm households, and the nature of the rural context in which they are produced and (partly) consumed. The project will identify and analyse the influence of different EU, national and local policies on these relationships, functions and linkages.

The Stella© software will be used to assist with the building and explication of a Policy Model of Multifunctional Agriculture and Rural Development. The research will suggest how payments related to non-market outputs, forming a key focus in the Rural Development Regulation and future reforms following the CAP Mid-Term Review, might be ‘modulated’ according to the likely production of such outputs in different farm, household and rural circumstances. The research will thus assist the development of EU agricultural, rural development, social and cohesion, and trade policy, and provide a basic model that facilitates more precise policy targeting and a structured examination of the relationships between potential or actual policy changes and (potential) changes in the multiple functions of agriculture and the sustainable development of rural areas.

Institutes from eleven EU and CEE countries participate in the project. It is is coordinated by the University of the Highlands and Island (UHI), Inverness, PolicyWeb / International Rural Network.

Coordination: University of the Highlands and Island (UHI), Inverness, PolicyWeb / International Rural Network

Project no.: 



Research | Sustainable land use |


European Commission, Directorate-General for Research


2005 - 2008

Contact person/s at IfLS: 

Simone Sterly