Video: Visions of 2030
Frank Ewert: Welcome speech and Moderation
Katharina Helming: Introduction into the conference
Miranda Meuwissen: Keynote speech “Sustainability and resilience of Europe’s diverse farming systems”
Mayte Blasco: Yoga intro
Farming systems in Europe face accumulating economic, environmental, institutional, and social challenges. Examples include the impact of extreme weather events, reduced access to markets and value chains (e.g. due to trade wars, political boycotts or Brexit), less stable and less protective policy environments, increasing controversies about agricultural mainstream practices, and more recently the interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These uncertainties exacerbate demographic issues such as a lack of successors to enable generational renewal at farm level, and insufficient availability of qualified seasonal and permanent labour. The compounding challenges raise concerns about the resilience of Europe’s farming systems.
The SURE-Farm approach is a systematic approach to assess the resilience of farming systems. The approach consists of the SURE-Farm framework and the systematic consideration of regional contexts, the collaboration of multiple disciplines and the deployment of mixed methods. The SURE-Farm resilience framework builds on the social-ecological tradition of resilience thinking and defines the resilience of a farming system as its ability to ensure the provision of its desired functions in the face of often complex and accumulating economic, social, environmental and institutional shocks and stresses, through capacities of robustness, adaptability and transformability. Guiding questions in the SURE-Farm approach are: (1) characterization of the farming system – resilience of what? (2) identification of challenges – resilience to what? (3) analysis of system functions – resilience for what purpose? (4) evaluation of system responses – what resilience capacities? and (5) examination of resilience attributes – what enhances resilience? The SURE-Farm approach was applied to eleven farming systems which represent different challenges, farm types, agro-ecological zones, produce and affected public goods.
The presentation zooms in on the farm economic perspective. A liveable income for farmers and farm workers is one of resilience attributes. For instance, if there is sufficient income, farmers have room to experiment with production practices which are possibly less harmful for the environment. Analyses using the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) panel dataset show that about 75% of the European farms was short-term viable. However, less than half of the farms was long-term viable. Qualitative SURE-Farm methods confirm that relatively low profitability was perceived as challenging in the majority of regions. Subsidies from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were found to have mixed impacts. For instance, findings show that direct payments decreased the probability of being long-term viable in almost all countries. Also, they constrained farm robustness as measured by the recovery rate, number of shocks and speed of recovery of farm income. On the other hand, we found that rural development payments enhanced farm robustness. In most European regions, subsidies did not affect adaptation and transformation of farms.
If current subsidies are not the answer to the needed transformation of farming systems, then what can be done to enhance the sustainability and resilience of Europe’s diverse farming systems? The presentation ends with recommendations for policy makers and farming system actors. They are not quick fixes.
EuroChoices, 2020, Towards more resilient agricultural systems in Europe, Vol 19(2), 76 p. https://doi.org/10.1111/1746-692X.12226.
Meuwissen, M.P.M., Feindt, P.H., .. and Reidsma, P., 2019. A framework to assess the resilience of farming systems. Agricultural Systems 176, 102656. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2019.102656
Paas, W., I. Coopmans, S. Severini, M. K. Van Ittersum, M. P. M. Meuwissen and P. Reidsma. 2021. Participatory assessment of sustainability and resilience of three specialized farming systems. Ecology and Society 26 (2):2. [online] URL: https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol26/iss2/art2/.
Slijper, H.T., de Mey, Y., Poortvliet, M.P., Meuwissen, M.P.M., 2021. Quantifying the resilience of European farms using FADN. Manuscript in preparation.
Opening and Plenary Keynote