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Policies and pathways of

change in rural areas

Elena Saraceno
EU policy advisor
“Policies and networking in Social
Farming across the EU”
ARSIA - Regione Toscana
Pisa, 25-28 May 2009

1.  Trends in rural areas, farming
activities, emerging patterns
2.  Implications for agricultural and rural
policies, governance
3.  Which policy framework for social
4.  Some preliminary conclusions
Key messages

•  Changes in rural areas are different than those
expected by theory (social, economic, agrarian): with
economic development rural areas diversify
•  Sector policies equating rural and agriculture are
increasingly ineffective and inefficient, they need to
be complemented by territorial policies (urban, rural)
but also by other sector policies (health)
•  Multifunctionality and pluriactivity, farm diversification
are key concepts that need to be better integrated in
theory and recognised by policies as non-residual
categories (relevant for SoFar)
•  Place of social farming could be set in the long term
perspective of CAP reform (income objective through
farm diversification rather than subsidies)
Trends in rural areas (1)
•  < agricultural land use (46%)
•  > of forests (31%) and abandoned land
Population (OECD definition)
•  56% of EU population in intermediate and predominantly rural
•  +0.2% annual population growth (95-05)
–  >50% of rural areas gain population
–  40% continue losing, 10% stable
–  Positive migration rates (+6.2%), negative natural balance
•  < agricultural sector (6%); > pluriactivity (36%)
•  > industrial sector: 26% in rural, 24% in urban
•  > service sector: 62% in rural 74% in urban
Value added
•  95% in rural areas comes from non-agricultural sectors, growing
Trends in rural areas (2)
•  Patterns in the diversification of rural activities (early
and late development, many “models”), mutually
supportive effects (tourism, landscape, typical products)
•  Changes in the forms of integration with the
“outside” (who comes and who goes, places of
residence and work, new activities, tourism, access,
public services and funding)
•  The adaptations of farming to wider rural development:
subsistence, professionalization, structural pluriactive
arrangements, on-farm diversification, sub-contracting,
abandonment of farm work, abandonment of farm
residence, non-family farming (much wider than
originally thought)
•  Decline of income problem, regardless of farm size;
emergence of economic and environmental risk
Trends in rural areas (3)

•  Productive profiles of urban and rural areas
have become more similar
•  Rural areas do attract resources, there is a
better exploitation of local assets, new
functions for urban areas, increase in the
competitiveness of rural areas (economies of
diversification), tourism often a motor, key
role of modern services, good access
•  Abandonment of farming no longer implies
the abandonment of the rural area
•  Changes in wider rural development have
influenced family farming in many ways (rural
Trends in rural areas (4)
The specific features of modern rurality: low density,
farming, nature, accessibility (in and out), economies
of scope (diversification)
•  Low density has important implications for modern
life: same services than for urban areas? Different
modes of delivery (multi-service outlets)? Who pays
for negative externalities (public goods)?
•  The multiple functions for society (food, lifestyles, low
cost of living, environmental amenities, traditions and
identity, social cohesion, health) who defines them?
Socially constructed?
•  Future needs, impact of the financial crisis?
Rural development theory needs thorough conceptual
revision, role of farming in modernization
reformulated, economic and social implications
Policy implications of rural trends

The unexpected development of rural areas raises many
policy issues of content and governance:
•  The CAP logic, based on farm activities as the key sector
for generating income has to be thoroughly revised in
theory and practice (pluriactivity solves many problems)
•  Rural policy has to address wider issues, multisector
•  Linkages and interaction between agriculture and wider
rural development has to be acknowledged
•  Higher need for a coordination of different policies: role of
public action in agriculture, manufacturing, services,
tourism, environment, access and infrastructure
•  If diversity is a distinctive feature, design and
implementation have to be tailored, participatory (no one
size fits all).
The coordination and integration of policies
•  Many policies have an impact on rural areas
(housing, transport, development, employment,
health, education, welfare...)
•  Most national states and regions have organized
them sector by sector
•  Multiple levels of competence (EU, state, region,
subregional level, municipality) difficulty of
implementing subsidiarity
•  Coordination and integration needs grow with
development (not the opposite) because of
economies of diversification
The coordination and integration of rural
policy (2)

•  Rural policy has seldom been a stand-alone
policy, the issue is where should be its
“home”: the dilemma between regional and
agricultural policy (old issue, obsolete)
•  The problem in reality is much wider than
that, involves all policies and the institutional
levels where coordination should take place
•  Experience with horizontal and vertical
integration: coordination and proofing at all
levels, and for the conception/strategy and
Methods, approaches for rural policy
•  The emergence of participatory approaches, bottom up,
Leader have changed governance: empowerment of
the local, more efficient and effective
•  Pressure of costs: multi-service outlets reduce costs
(adapted to low density)
•  Information society, knowledge economy expands
opportunities (tele-work, tele-medicine,..)
•  Multifunctional arrangements have introduced a new
vision, linked with public goods, not necessarily
coherent with subsidy entitlements
Is the CAP of today adapted to rural
trends and governance?
•  Not really, very slowly adjusting, difficult to get out of the
“entitlement” mentality, with no strings attached
•  Historical accumulation of measures does not help
coherence, difficult to review or change (dead weight
•  The “new” approach added, but residual
•  Territorial, environmental and sector approaches in fact
compete for resources rather than integrate and work in a
mutually supportive way
•  Gap between conceptual framework and reality does not
help (learning by doing), codification of experience occurs
Social farming and current CAP

Not really adapted to current 2nd pillar:
Social farming relies on payments in exchange for
health services provided by farm family members
•  In principle, it belongs in the diversification of
farming measure, in 3rd axis, but this has an
investment rationale
•  Health services are an exclusive competence of
Member States, not co-financed
•  Problems of coordination and integration quite
relevant (horizontal and vertical)
•  Multifunctionality (2nd axis) limited to
environmental services (negative externalities)
Social farming, its place in rural policy (1)
Positive assets, opportunities
•  Joins traditional perspective (family farms) with very
modern view (efficient and adapted delivery of social
services in rural areas), and new governance (bottom up,
•  Provides an original form of “outside” integration, different
from tourism, food, local crafts, more “modern” (services for
developed rural areas, better integration with urban)
•  Could add an important dimension, today missing, of
diversification of farm activities through supply of health
services in rural areas
•  I would see it as a form of pluriactivity, of farm
diversification, rather than of multifunctionality, a more
ambiguous concept (green box, subsidies) but rather to
future possibility of specific contracts, of limited duration
Social farming, its place in rural policy (2)
Weaknesses, threats
•  The case for including social farming in CAP (rural
policy), at EU level, rather than in health policy
needs good and strong arguments to be accepted
•  The logic of direct payments to farmers is not
coherent with the provision of health services
•  The multifunctionality concept is inadequate
(politically ambiguous, public services do not imply
a market failure like environmental goods)
•  It should not be promoted as a further expansion of
the CAP to a new field (already calls for going back
to core business), nor for maintaining current
Preliminary conclusions
•  Social farming is an excellent concept,
coherent with trends in rural areaas, but at
present not really fitting in RD policy, within
the CAP
•  The case should be made for inclusion in the
current budget review, keeping in mind the
intention to cut direct payments
•  Pluriactivity and farm diversification, are key
concepts for social farming (not residual, not
•  Coordination of policies between farming and
health services needs to be addressed (which
“home” for social farming?)
Thank you