Multifunctionality and local identity as paradigms for a competitive and sustainable agriculture

Evy Mettepenningen, Nick Schuermans, Lies Messely, Roeland Cappon, Valerie Vandermeulen, Guido Vanhuylenbroeck, Joost Dessein, Etienne Van Hecke, Hans Leinfelder, Marie Bourgeois, Tom Laurijssen, Jeroen Bryon, Ludwig Lauwers, Georges Allaert, Michel Jourez

Onderzoeksoutput: Hoofdstuk in Boek/Rapport/CongresprocedureC1: Artikels in proceedings van wetenschappelijke congressen, die niet inbegrepen zijn in A1, A2, A3 of P1

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Agriculture has always been multifunctional in the sense that it has always provided yellow (social care and cohesion), green (environmental and landscape services) and blue services (water management and flood control). The modernization of agriculture, however, has put pressure on this which endangers the ecological sustainability of farming. Moreover, as rural areas are changing from ‘productive’ to ‘consumptive’ areas, people living in rural areas increasingly expect agriculture to deliver these extra goods and services (Potter and Tilzey, 2005). Next to this, the modernization process of agriculture is also confronted with other
limits. First of all there are market limits: resistance is building up from countries outside Europe, who consider the production incentives that caused the European Union (EU) to become a net exporter of food, as unfair competition. There are also social limits: farmers become victims of isolation and income decreases, there are increased financial risks and more recently agriculture has suffered a lot from food and animal health crises. All these conflicts show that the modern agricultural model is in crisis and needs to be changed. A basic assumption in this research project is that multifunctionality can be a new unifying paradigm that can bring post-modern agriculture in accordance with new societal demands and as such increases its economic, ecological and social sustainability (Van Huylenbroeck, et al., 2007a).

The most popular definition of multifunctional agriculture is the one of the OECD (2001) in which multifunctionality is described as ‘the production of non-commodities which are a joint output of commodity production or in other words the delivery of non-tradable outputs when producing food and fibre’ (OECD, 2001). According to Moyer and Josling (2002) however, the production of non-commodities is threatened to disappear when the market does not remunerate farmers for this. One possible option to stimulate mulifunctionality are government payments. However, a better solution would be that the government stimulates the creation of new markets and networks in which the delivery of non-commodity products is valued (Van Huylenbroeck, et al., 2007a). Nowadays the remuneration of non-commodities is currently still inefficiently organized and multifunctionality is mostly associated with noncompetitive forms of agriculture and more alternative farmers, while ways should be found to
stimulate forms of agriculture which are efficient in the provision of local public goods. Therefore most farmers are reluctant to leave the modernization paradigm for this new way of farming.

There is already a lot of evidence that multifunctional agriculture contributes to economically beneficial functions in a region, such as an increase in the value of residential property in an area (see e.g. Cheshire and Sheppard, 1995; Garrod and Willis, 1992b; Irwin, 2002) and the prices of rural accommodation (see e.g. Fleischer and Tchetchik, 2005a; Vanslembrouck, et al., 2005). Evidence also exists that when agriculture disappears, there will be a negative impact on landscapes and agri-ecological systems (MacDonald, et al., 2000) and that the willingness-to-pay for agriculture increases when farming systems are more multifunctional
(Bennett, et al., 2004; Poe, 1999). Because of their appeal to tourists, agricultural elements are often used in regional branding attempts which are emerging as a new theme in rural development approaches (Hegger, 2007). These examples from literature suggest that agriculture unintentionally contributes to the identity of a region and that this can have 8 economic effects, as such increasing rural competitiveness. In the MUSICAL1 project, we hypothesize that multifunctional agriculture can also profit from regional identity and the economic effects it creates in a region. This is for instance the case in the Italian regions where the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is produced, and where farmers are the owners of a very successful cheese supply chain (de Roest and Menghi, 2000).
TitelMultifunctionality and local identity as paradigms for a sustainable and competitive agriculture
Aantal pagina's122
StatusGepubliceerd - 2011
EvenementContactforum Multifunctionaliteit en Regionale Identiteit als Paradigma's voor een Duurzame en Competitieve Landbouw. 3/22/11 - Brussel, België
Duur: 22-mrt-201122-mrt-2011

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