Journal of Rural Studies 24 (2008) 422–431

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Journal of Rural Studies
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jrurstud

Rural development and the regional state: Denying multifunctional agriculture in the UK
Terry Marsden*, Roberta Sonnino
School of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff CF10 3WA, UK

a b s t r a c t
Keywords: Multifunctional agriculture Rural development UK rural and agricultural policies Local food Rural governance

Under the emerging rural development paradigm, we argue that to be multifunctional an activity must add income to agriculture, it must contribute to the construction of a new agricultural sector that corresponds to the needs of the wider society and it must reconfigure rural resources in ways that lead to wider rural development benefits. By evaluating UK rural policies on the basis of whether or not they attempt to meet these conditions, this paper shows that an implicit recognition of agriculture’s multifunctional character has occurred recently through the shift from a sectoral to a regional and territorial perspective that reintegrates farming into rural development. However, in practice, and especially in England, the UK government has been unable to turn multifunctional activities into a real rural development option. In fact, by continuing to support agri-industrial/retailer interests on the one hand, and post-productivistd environmental and amenityd interests on the other, the State is governing mostly by setting up competitively organized ‘projects’ and schemes that continue to justify the concentration (and limitation) of resources allocated to agriculture. Based upon a critique of policy developments over the past decade, this paper emphasizes the need for more innovative forms of state innovation that provide opportunities for new, creative and more spatially embedded forms of supply and demand management in agri-food. In the conclusions, the paper also argues that more critical research is needed to uncover the existing and potential role of both governments and producer networks in progressing sustainable rural development through agricultural multifunctionality. Ó 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction: Conceptualizing ‘multifunctional agriculture’ The concept of the multifunctionality of agriculture embraces all goods, products and services created by farming activities. Used for the first time in 1993 by the European Council for Agricultural Law in an effort to harmonize agricultural legislation across Europe and to provide the general notion of ‘sustainable agriculture’ with a legal definition (Losch, 2004: 340), in the last decade the expression ‘multifunctional agriculture’ has steadily entered the political and scholarly debate about the role of farming for the economy and the society as a whole. The Cork declaration in 1996 articulated the commitment of the European Commission to multifunctionality, stressing that agriculture is a major interface between people and the environment and that farmers have a responsibility as stewards of the natural resources of the countryside (Gorman et al., 2001: 138). As a result of this commitment, in recent years the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has more practically emphasized the need ‘‘to express the multifunctional

* Corresponding author. Tel.: þ44 29 20 875 736; fax: þ44 29 20 874 845. E-mail address: marsdentk@cardiff.ac.uk (T. Marsden). 0743-0167/$ – see front matter Ó 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2008.04.001

character of farming’’ (Losch, 2004: 340) through policies that reduce (especially EU) agricultural support and high levels of food production and input use (OECD, 2001). At the EU level, this view has informed the Agenda 2000 reforms, which propose a model for change, often upheld as ‘‘European Model of Agriculture’’ (Potter and Burney, 2002: 35; Potter and Tilzey, 2005), designed to safeguard farming ‘‘because of its multifunctional nature and the part it plays in the economy, the environment and society in general’’ (Gorman et al., 2001: 138). Despite a growing consensus among both scholars and policymakers around the need for recognizing and valuing a wide range of farm production outputsd including environmental amenities, agritourism, food quality, landscape management, preservation of biodiversity, etc.d ‘multifunctional agriculture’ is by no means clearly and uniformly conceptualized or understood (Wilson, 2007). Indeed, it would be more accurate to argue, as we shall see, that the term has been victim to discursive appropriation by the competing paradigms of agri-food and rural development that are unfolding (see also Tilzey, 2006). In general terms, we propose that there are three main and competing interpretations of this concept. These correspond to the competing approaches to agriculture implicit in the three development paradigms that have been shaping UK and European rural space and policies in recent years

In policy terms. 1999). This is. As we will show in Section 5. These governance shifts tend to suggest. the Rural Enterprise Scheme. while the English Rural Development Plan (2001–2007) extended CAP support to various non-agricultural activities. 2005).  it must contribute to the construction of a new agricultural sector that corresponds to the needs and expectations of the society at large. 2003: 185). Regionalization. On the one hand. there is an emerging sustainable rural development paradigm. this diversity reflects the emerging and uneven devolved governance process that regulates the implementation of new rural policies and food initiatives (such as new supply chain strategies and public food procurement) in England and Wales. social and aesthetic functions. The UK’s aspirations for a rural policy that de-emphasizes the role of farming convinced the government (especially in England) to commit to a more ‘rural’ model of multifunctionality through the adoption of ‘modulation’. Emerging in the last two decades. for example. As Knickel and Renting (2000: 513) explain. stimulated new project. Wales has developed a more multifunctional model based on the adoption of a ‘supply-chain’ approach that re-embeds agriculture into the rural economy and environment. the growth of planning and environmental restrictions on agricultural land and the use of agri-environmental schemes have reinforced this post-productivist variant of multifunctionality. which. R. increased environmental awareness. as exemplified by LEADER. rural development consists of a wide variety of multi-dimensional and integrated activities that fulfil a number of functions not just for the farm. Rather. multifunctional agriculture acquires its most comprehensive meaning and displays its highest integrative development potential. farm pluriactivity is replaced by farmland diversification. in and beyond the farm enterprise. 1. then. In this context. the interpretation provided by Gerowitt et al. combined with the traumatic effects of the BSE and Foot and Mouth disease.2. Sevilla Guzman and Woodgate. demand for food security and quality and criticisms of the scale of protection measures in industrialized countries (Losch. 1.e. In Sections 3 and 4 we analyze both the ‘top-down’ and the ‘bottom-up’ effects of regionalization and the albeit partial ‘greening’ of agricultural policy implicit in the UK’s interpretation of CAP reform and multifunctionality. the farm-based approach to the multifunctionality of agriculture is replaced by a land-based approach that emphasizes the different (and demarcated) functions of agricultural land (see. conceived of as the combination of agricultural and non-agricultural incomes within the farm household (Gasson and Winter. which assume the atomistic nature of farms and the land associated with them. 2004: 339–340). to be multifunctional and. hence. . based on a perception of rural areas as consumption spaces to be exploited not only by industrial capital. in Section 2 of the paper we argue that in the UK an implicit recognition of agriculture’s multifunctional character occurred during the 1990s. Marsden. this shift was reinforced by two factors. partial. this emerging paradigm considers multifunctional agriculture no longer simply as a ‘survival strategy’ for farmers. Multifunctional agriculture as part of sustainable rural development Third. the implementation of agrienvironmental initiatives also contributed to advance a broader and more differentiated view of agricultural services to society. however. ecological. Sonnino / Journal of Rural Studies 24 (2008) 422–431 423 and they are accompanied by different types of state action and policy development. it is divided into specific and functional parcels. Eikeland. in other words. On the other hand. 1958). the multifunctional character of agriculture is restricted to the notion of pluriactivity.3. 1. an activity. there is a contested post-productivist paradigm. pluriactivity is interpreted mainly as a survival strategy that helps the least productive farmers to combat increasingly harsh market conditionsdor. encouraged a shift from a sectoral to a more regional and territorial perspective that reintegrates farming into rural development. Under this farm-based approach. multifunctionality is a proactive development tool to promote more sustainable economies of scope and synergy (Marsden. we will evaluate recent agri-food and rural development policies in the UK on the basis of whether or not they attempt to meet those three conditions and to use multifunctionality as an integrated development mechanism and a critical assessment tool that potentially re-embeds agriculture in its environment to promote rural sustainability. to varying degrees. 1994. however. In this context. Resulting from serious objections to the (largely monofunctional) productivist model of agriculture and its negative externalities. 1987. the postproductivist paradigm challenges the agro-industrial paradigm through an emphasis on planning for local environmental protection and amenity enhancement. but also for the region and the society as a whole. when an economic crisis in the farming sector.T. Hence. there was a process of regionalization of rurality. Here agriculture begins to lose its centrality in society. in contrast to the other paradigms.. this has tended to reduce multifunctional agriculture and enhance its productivist monofunctionality.  it must imply a radical redefinition and reconfiguration of rural resources.1. Specifically. there is an agro-industrial paradigm. In short. through. associated with a neoliberal ‘virtual’ logic of scale and specialization that ties farms and agri-food into an industrial bio-science dynamic. at best. and nature is conceived mostly in terms of landscape value (as a consumption good). Under this model. Furthermore.. but by the growing urban and exurban populations. must meet at least three conditions (Marsden. This paradigm reconnects a priority of agricultural production to the wider markets and social possibilities. Historically. 1992. that the adoption of rural development definitions of multifunctionality has only been. 1999). In the UK. which redefines nature by re-emphasizing food production and agro-ecology and it reasserts the socio-environmental role of agriculture as a major agent in sustaining rural economies and cultures (Altieri. as a symptom of poverty and a palliative for it. 2003: 186):  it must add income and employment opportunities to the agricultural sector. whereby the rural land-base itself becomes multifunctionaldi. Multifunctional agriculture as spatial regulation of the consumption countryside Second. triggered by the availability of European Structural Funds. the rural development paradigm suggests the potential symbiotic inter-connectedness between farms and the same locale. multifunctionality here becomes a variably adopted ‘agricultural adjustment’ for those producers unable to remain full players on the ‘technological treadmill’ (Cochrane. we argue.and partnership-based approaches to rural problems. Multifunctional agriculture as a palliative to the productivist ‘cost-price’ squeeze First. In this paper. for instance. (2003: 227) when they state that agricultural land-use has production. for example. In short. Bateman and Ray. and that each of these functions can add to a farm’s income either by creating resources or by buffering resource consumption. to contribute to rural development. Under this emerging paradigm. has created an opportunity to design alternative models of agriculture within the UK. Vereijken et al.

based upon a restricted and increasingly ‘project-based’ approach to multifunctionality. In addition to reconnecting farming to the wider environment. it supported and created employment on farms. Munton et al. 2003: 21) that is embracing some of the opportunities for a rural development model of multifunctional agriculture. Progressing multifunctionality in the UK political agenda The expression ‘multifunctional agriculture’ has failed to enter the mainstream political discourse in the UK. 2. In fact. The second key factor that led to a rethinking of the role of agriculture in the UK during the 1990s was a process of regionalization of rural development triggered by two main policy initiatives: the availability of European Structural Funds and. Marsden et al. particularly through an increase in environmental work. Responsible for this is a traditional. a worsening economic crisis in the farming sector. which were applied in designated Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) in 1987d five years before they became part of the Accompanying Measures of the CAP (Regulation 2078/92). sectoral and individualized notion of agriculture and agricultural competitiveness to a regional. which led to the creation of a Scottish Parliament (with primary legislative power and a tax-varying power) and of a Welsh Assembly (with no primary legislative and fiscal power but with the power to spend its allocated budget on the basis of its own priorities and the power to regulate quangos).. Lowe et al. and keeping the more radical arguments about multifunctionality at bay. 1991. During the 1990s. the devolution reforms in Scotland and Wales. it has allowed for the continued intensification (and retailerization) of agricultural production. . Tir Cymen was based on the principle that environmental goods and services have a market value and that farmers should capitalize on these externalities. 2000: 8). As we conclude. agro-industrial view of agriculture as a separate and distinct economic sector. we see that UK policy as a whole has tended to straddle combinations of both an agri-industrial and a post-productivist model of multifunctionality. 2000: 8. this principle well reflects the changing role of agriculture in society (Banks. 2003). From this perspective. the ESA scheme (which will end by 2015) also attempts to provide benefits in terms of enhanced recreation opportunities and rural employment (Hanley et al. 1999: 69). 1993. the realities of the consumption countryside were more clearly articulated (Marsden et al. one of the most pioneering (and rural development focused) agri-environmental schemes in the UK has been recognized as Tir Cymen (meaning ‘Tidy Land’). growing urban amenity pressure. This began to shift the emphasis from the agri-industrial to a more post-productivist model: through an emphasis on what amounted to agricultural ‘clean-up’ and widening amenity. rural policiesdespecially in the ‘marginal’ areas of the uplands. we argue that the UK government has been unable to progress real agricultural multifunctionality and that the scarcity of analyses on this issue. offering grants for enterprise feasibility studies. when the conventional approach to rural development. One of the earliest examples of this approach was the 1988 Ministry of Agriculture’s Farm Diversification Scheme (Ilbery and Stiell. at a more practical level Tir Cymen also had significant implications in terms of adding value to farm business and local economies. Indeed..1 The European Structural Funds. While raising questions about farm adjustment strategies (Ilbery. 2001) and pluriactivity (Gasson and Winter. combined with traumatic effects of BSE and the Foot and Mouth on consumers’ trust and on smaller farmers’ incomes. At the same time. As a result. If. as well as an increasing concern for the loss of valued landscapes and environmental resources brought about by changing agricultural practices (Ward. began to reveal all of its limitations. territorial and collective notion’’ (Ward et al. 2000: 478).424 T. they were clearly based upon a post-productivist model whereby the role of the state in agri-food was broadened from productivism alone towards meeting the needs of specific environmental and amenity interests. required that a view be taken on the contribution of the agricultural sector to regional economic development (Ward. much more work is needed to understand how real multifunctional rural development can proceed in the UK agricultural sector and what role new producer networks and a more proactive. Unlike most other schemes. Indeed. the reintegration of agriculture into rural development strategies in the UK and the implicit recognition of its multifunctional character were favoured by two factors: the gradual greening of (CAP) agricultural policy through the implementation of a number of agri-environmental schemes and a progressive move towards the economic and political regionalization of rurality (see Murdoch et al. This was especially true for the ESA policy. of their interrelationships and of the policies associated with them. has prompted a serious reconsideration of the roles of agriculture and rural development. thereby complying with a central tenet of multifunctional agriculture. initial marketing costs and the establishment of businesses ancillary to the farm (Shucksmith and Winter. 1997).. Bateman and Ray. 1992. Objective 5b is the one that has mostly contributed to 1 The process of devolution in the UK started with referendums in 1997. 1992). one of the earliest regional policies for rural development purposes. which tended to be more reliant on farming for their incomes. and it stimulated new enterprise development across rural Wales (Banks and Marsden. Over the last two decades. tend to limit the opportunities for a multifunctional rural development that meets our three criteria identified above. 2003). it was becoming increasingly evident that many British farms were playing an active role in rural development by engaging in diversification (McNally. which were reformed in 1988. at an ideological level. Reflecting a long tradition of landscape and nature protection policies. brought about by the continued application of this model. in Wales. This is favouring a radical shift from a ‘‘national. thereby potentially creating a platform for it. R. which is fundamentally based on the idea that particular farming regimes must be safeguarded for their essential role in terms of environmental protection. 1994). combined with an implicit acceptance of the ‘project State’ model ¨ (Sjoblom.. Marsden. such schemes were instrumental in progressing a broader view of agricultural services to society. Sonnino / Journal of Rural Studies 24 (2008) 422–431 In the concluding part of the paper. Finally. 1990). has significantly limited both policy development and research on multifunctional agriculture in the UK.. set apart from local and regional economies. rather than being paid for simply not maximizing the production of the land (Banks and Marsden. more recently. it has espoused the post-productivist logics of multifunctionality associated with the provision of environmental and amenity goods and services from rural land. rather than just community-based. largely associated with local ‘bottom-up’ initiatives concentrated upon the regeneration of selected rural communities. innovative and decentralized state could potentially play in this process. In this sense. however. this scheme raised the performance of some livestock herds. the UK was relatively early in introducing agri-environmental schemes. Of the five Objectives of the EU Structural Funds. We argue that this state-based juxtaposition and conundrum. 2000). 2004).. these trends also called for the implementation of farm-based. 2002). employment and cultural identity. This changed perception and questioning of the role of farming in the UK can be traced back to the late 1980s. as a justificatory means for reducing state supports (as pressured by the WTO and the OECD). 1992).. 1991) and the restructuring of agriculture (Evans and Ilbery.

agriculture in itself did not receive much emphasis in the Objective 5b areas. redefining the social role of agriculture and increasing value-added on farm products. this White Paper further advanced the ideals of a post-productivist mode of multifunctional agriculture. Specifically. the accompanying measures. agricultural structural schemes and a set of wider rural development measures that used to be available only in designated areas under the Structural Funds). as we discussed above. An example of this new approach is the LEADER programme. rather than relying on a two-dimensional concept of agri-environmental spatial designations. 1998: 84).and partnership-based approaches to addressing rural problems that have indirectly contributed to progressing multifunctionality (Marsden et al. 2001: 387–388). 2000: 212). at least on the face of it.favoured area payments. These White Papers were immediately followed by a deepening of the BSE crisis in 1996. First. as necessarily excluded from broader rural development objectives (Lowe. as McNicholas and Ward (1997: 25) state. ‘‘may signal an idealized notion of [. In other words. the political rhetoric surrounding agriculture in the UK tends to overemphasize (even celebrate) the multiple roles that farming can play for both the environment and the society at large. By recognizing the changing and heterogeneous nature of the economy and society of rural areas and the diversity of demands made upon them by modern society in the post-productivist era. This process culminated in 2000 with another Rural White Paper that urged farmers to become more entrepreneurial and to exploit the environmental economy. which represents the most significant feature of Agenda 2000 in terms of transforming the CAP from a sectoral policy of farm community support to an integrated policy for rural development. and only four priorities in total came under the primary sector diversification classification (McNicholas and Ward.. which were conceived to spell out the broad range of state initiatives in operation in rural areas. therefore. for example. at the same time. 2000: 8). In short. This trend. 3. has not been characterized by any serious consideration for the reconstituted agricultural component of the emerging rural development paradigm. 2000: 166). 2000: 27). This further highlighted the urgency to revive farming fortunes. initiatives of this kind represent an important step towards multifunctional agriculture as rural development. Scotland and Wales). a dynamic context to analyze national interpretations of the ideals of multifunctional agriculture. Indeed. 1997) shows that Objective 5b in the UK emphasized two ideas implicit in the general concept of multifunctionality. provision of environmental services and development of farmbased tourism (Lowe and Ward.] agriculture’’ (McNicholas and Ward. Agriculture is thus now generally perceived in policy terms as a multifunctional activity di. Nevertheless. however. McNicholas and Ward’s analysis of the strategic objectives identified in the Single Programming Documents for those areas (McNicholas and Ward.. Regionalization was officially incorporated in the political discourse on rural development with the publication of a set of Rural White Papers in the mid-1990s. the British discourse has not adequately emphasized how these new sets of policy conditions can stimulate. should harness local variety in line with broader policy goals (Murdoch et al. enabled the LEADER II group in West Wales. the voluntary provision by landholders of agri-environmental goods in return for compensatory payments for income foregone’’ (Falconer and Ward. the Rural Development Regulation (RDR) or Second Pillar. While reflecting the traditionally poorly-developed (and in some spheres oppositional) relationship between agricultural policy and rural development policy in the UK (Ward. the White Papers brought forward the idea that rural policy. R. UK policies in the last decade have increasingly embraced a general idea of multifunctionality. Objective 5b allocated funds to 11 rural areas throughout the UK between 1994 and 1999. under a rural development paradigm.. 1997: 18). Indeed. Much less attention has been paid to the role that the environment and wider society can play to add value and employment opportunities to the agricultural sector. consequently... They have been based upon reconnecting value-added supply chains. 1997: 24). the mid-1990s White Papers represented an essential step in the shift from a narrowly agricultural focus to a rural (horizontal) re-orientation (Lowe. by encouraging farmers to ‘‘make the character of the countryside an economic as well as an environmental asset’’ (p. Even though in the UK only a few LEADER groups emphasized ‘process’ goals and capacity building (Shucksmith. developing an agricultural and rural policy that recognises and accommodates agriculture’s multifunctional roles’’ (Lowe et al. Conceived to be a compromise between market liberalization and protectionism. even though the expression ‘multifunctional agriculture’ is not used in the UK. to develop a brand name and image for speciality food producers in its locality dan initiative that was later extended to incorporate small food producers from the whole Objective 5b region in Wales (Bristow. 11) through speciality foods. by progressively discussing the need to reconnect farming to rural and regional development. this local development initiative was often very useful in constructing a territorial identity linked to land-based local resources (Ray. In addition to incorporating nine previously separate measures (less. a pilot community initiative introduced in 1991 that was designed to stimulate innovative approaches to rural development at the local level through small-scale actions and the valorization of local resourcesdphysical and human (Ray. 2000: 273). Sonnino / Journal of Rural Studies 24 (2008) 422–431 425 redefining the role of agriculture in more multifunctional terms. when it was admitted that the disease could be transferred from animals to humans. In fact. 2006).T. 1997: 391). Agenda 2000 was in fact the EU’s response to the challenge of engaging ‘‘in wider processes of agricultural trade liberalization while. Produced on a devolved (England. there has been a failure of policy to engage with all three criteria associated with the role of multifunctionality in rural development that we have outlined above. an emphasis on ‘‘diversification of rural economies away from an overdependence upon [. By reconfiguring local resources. this lack of integration also helps to understand why multifunctional agriculture as part of the rural development paradigm has been so slow to take hold in the UK. second. a combination in some areas of the conservation and development of the natural environment priority with that for the development of human resourcesdwhich. This reveals a general failure of the Structural Funds to reach an adequate degree of integration across the agricultural/non-agricultural divide. 2004). 2003: 210–211). rather than UK-wide. Multifunctional agriculture and CAP reform (from above) The Agenda 2000 reforms provide. as an activity that can contribute to regional development by strengthening regional supply chains. ‘‘adheres to the philosophy of the ‘public good’ model di. the RDR also introduced a new set of measures for ‘‘the adaptation and development of rural areas’’ (Article 33) that extends the eligibility . Agriculture as a sector was (and still is) seen by many as being well catered for by the CAP and.] rural people as the natural custodians of valued landscapes’’.e. project. only two of the eleven areas made specific reference to the agricultural sector in their strategic objectives. Antur Teifi. Marsden. 2003). 2002: 1). This. However.e. by promoting territorial development through the provision of rural infrastructure and public goods and by contributing to regional branding and identities (Ward et al. as ‘horizontal’ rather than sectoral policy. Concerned with the adjustment of agricultural structures and the development of rural areas. basisda strategy that tended itself to highlight regional differences in rural conditions. the Structural Funds have stimulated the development of new. a more radical or profound reconfiguration of rural resources both in and beyond the farm enterprise.

In short. rather than valueadding. the RES confirms that the social justification of both modulation and the various Article 33 measures in the UK ‘‘is not so much agricultural survival as the provision of broader environmental public goods for a society that places particular value upon them’’ (Lowe et al. Under the reformed CAP. 2002: 17). 2000: 17). In fact. such as for rural development. local supply chains. The other two parameters of multifunctionality in the context of sustainable rural development di. Multifunctional agriculture in the UK. they also make clear that rural development aid will not be used to ‘bail out the industry’ in the short term (Dwyer and Baldock. As a result. 2002: 12). Not surprisingly. to an area-based SFP both to reflect the larger-scale of farms in its lowland and for environmental reasons (Marsden and Sonnino. In fact. where ‘‘there is more public and political sympathy for assistance to farmers despecially the smaller and remoter onesd on social grounds’’ (Lowe et al. As a consequence. As a result of the recent emergence of ‘regionalized ruralities’ (Murdoch et al. from January 2005. However. Taking our rural development conceptualization of multifunctional agriculture as a point of reference and evaluation. Sonnino / Journal of Rural Studies 24 (2008) 422–431 for CAP support to non-farmers and non-agricultural activities (Lowe et al. the scheme extends CAP support to various non-agricultural activities dsuch as improving rural services and infrastructure and encouraging tourism and farm diversification. the Government decided to use ‘modulation’ da mechanism made available to Member States to reduce compensatory payments to farmers and free up resources for additional spending on the RDR’s accompanying measures. agricultural structures and rural development measures (namely. rather than by any coherent long-term vision of how farm-based economic activity might be realigned with rural sustainable resource use more generally. 2002: 8). countryside character and amenity and regional sustainability’’ (Lowe et al. the decision to modulate in the UK was enthusiastically welcomed by countryside and conservation organizations but not by Scotland and Wales. 2005). which better responds to the needs of a narrow-based farming sector dominated by livestock and to the public support for the smaller family farm. following two possible modalities. the Welsh Plan proposes to use the measure for investment aids to address better 2 Revisions to these plans are currently before the European Commission (2007). 2002: 15). In England especially. In its operation. the UK was allocated only 3. has rather been a kind of rupture with the ..5% of the European RDR budget for 2000– 2006 (Lowe et al. While Wales has opted for an historical approach. To a certain extent. agriculture is still caught very much in between the agri-industrial and the post-productivist models (see also Potter and Tilzey. reflecting the environmentalist agenda is also the fact that the proposed spending on agri-environmental measures accounts by far for the largest share of budget allocations in all three Plans di. R. However. have been driven by cost. where it has occurred. Finally. 2002: 13). or to use an ‘historical’ approach that keeps the SFP linked to historical CAP entitlement. In this respect. the regionalization of rurality recently occurring in the UK has prompted different interpretations of CAP reform..e. a redefinition of the agricultural sector and the radical reconfiguration of rural resources dhave not been met in policy terms.2 By emphasizing different priorities for agriculture and rural development in separate regional contexts. By keeping the old ‘ruralist’ focus and by looking primarily to a diverse rural economy (Lowe et al. the RDP process is fuelling debates about the British notion of multifunctionality dor ‘‘the contribution of agriculture to emerging regional objectives.. The UK application of modulation confirms the national commitment to a ‘rural’.426 T. 2000: 37).e. but not necessarily to re-embed farming. overall the RDPs. which is independent from production and linked to complying with environmental. whereby the SFP includes all farmers.. the ability to ‘fit in’ with the price-support mechanisms of CAP and an environmental rationale. even though all three Plans express some sympathy for the current economic difficulties of the agricultural sector. 2003). as well as the more recent (2006-7) revisions. the English Plan proposed a more rural approach to multifunctionality in its emphasis upon the creation of a productive and sustainable rural economy (Lowe et al. through a variable emphasis on production and diversification of the farm and the rural economy. 2000: 24–25).. whereas the English Plan has nine regional chapters run through the UK Ministry (DEFRA). we can conclude that the UK approach has tended to prioritize a focus on the search for new opportunities to add income and employment to the agricultural sector. activities in all three Plans is counterbalanced by the priority placed upon using the measures available to promote marketing and processing of agricultural products dboth under Chapter VII of the Regulation and in relation to ‘quality agricultural products’ under Article 33. these different approaches reflect different regional interpretations of the concept of multifunctional agriculture that also characterize the regional RDPs. regardless of whether or not they are currently receiving CAP support. the UK Government faced a serious difficulty in implementing the RDR. on the other hand. the SFP has been implemented at the regional level (except in England). 35% in Wales and 60% in England (Dwyer and Baldock. the non-compulsory elements that UK Governments have always been unwilling to support). In many ways. however. rather than ‘agricultural. In fact. the emphasis on non-agricultural. England started with an historical basis to payment to then shift..’ model of multifunctionality. Since the allocation of funding for Pillar II was largely based upon Member States’ historic spending commitments on agri-environment.. the cornerstone of the reform is the introduction of the Single Farm Payment (SFP). multifunctional agriculture is then still defined at best in a combination of agri-industrial and post-productivist termsdi. 2002: 4). funded under Article 33. The RDR required each Member State to draw up territoriallybased 7-year Rural Development Plans (RDPs) ‘‘at the most appropriate geographical level’’. Marsden. the Second Pillar idea reflected the UK’s aspirations for a broader rural policy that de-emphasizes the role of farming. This kind of support can potentially contribute to multifunctional agriculture... as it improves farm incomes without increasing production while also building new links among farm products. 2000: 18).. Scotland and Wales prepared dand are administeringd their own RDPs through their devolved governments. in the context of a policy approach that recognizes the need to diversify income sources and enterprises. demonstrate that the UK is still far from having a coherent policy on multifunctional agriculture. while the Welsh Plan somewhat supported multifunctional agriculture by identifying an integrated set of goals for Welsh farming. over time. except through the variable implementation of agri-environmental schemes. Regions have the option to adopt an ‘area-based’ approach. for about 20% of the annual budget in Scotland.. which provides project-based support for farming and non-farming activities in rural areas. food safety and animal welfare standards (‘cross-compliance’). the English RDP in particular makes little or no effort to redefine the role of agriculture in a multifunctional sense. regional competitiveness. environmental management. In part. 2002: 13). tackled these measures through the Rural Enterprise Scheme (RES).e. The English Plan.. in its attempt to assist rural communities in ‘‘their regeneration and adjustment to the declining importance of agriculture and other primary industries and to the new demands of the rural economy’’ (Lowe et al. 2005). environmental quality and community identity (Dwyer and Baldock. diversification and waste handling on farms (Dwyer and Baldock. In the context of Pillar I. These schemes. 2002: 11).

One of the earliest official documents to be based on this ‘supply-chain approach’ is A Food Strategy for Wales. the UK government is building on this new opportunity. published by a Policy Commission in 2002 in an effort to chart a course out of the crisis. Ranging from the development of school programmes to encourage milk consumption among children to the establishment of the Farming Connect advisory system for producers. in the context of a continuing and deepening conventional agricultural crisis. Again. 2001: 13). whilst at the same time trying to build a supply-side capacity to meet that demand (Morgan and Morley. consumers and farmer organizations. at more special markets and niche markets’’ (Government of the National Assembly for Wales. auction markets. 2006). these initiatives have re-positioned farming as a neoproductivist activity that is. range and availability’. the environment and other rural activities. This multi-dimensional supply chain approach is quite distinct from the two-dimensional approaches based on land management in agri-environmental schemes. through it. Sonnino / Journal of Rural Studies 24 (2008) 422–431 427 State sector. a supply-chain approach is likely to improve policy infrastructures and interfaces and to provide better incentives for farmers to develop value-adding. and (3) creating technical and business support services for the food industry (WOAD. where possible. albeit market-led. Similarly. For example. In England. 2004: 16). as stated in the Curry Report itself (Policy Commission. in trying to put sustainable food procurement into practice through a strategy that attempts to calibrate the demand and supply sides of the problemdor. Under this approach. 2002). 2002: 9). rather than being achieved through policy incentives per se. a document prepared by a group of experts to advise the Welsh Government on the direction the industry should take. Marsden. 2004: 12). this document emphasizes the ‘‘positive additional or alternative employment and business opportunities’’ offered to farmers and their families by the wider rural economy (Policy Commission. By exhorting the farming and food industry to reconnect with markets. again. is redefining agriculture in more multifunctional terms. a visually attractive countryside and . In some ways. 2002: 9) as well as by forms of diversification such as tourism and alternative cropping (Policy Commission. 2007). 4. this discourse is creating new opportunities for multifunctional agriculture and sustainable rural development. Produced in 1996 by an advisory group that included politicians and representatives from producers. this new discourse on the role of farming emerged for the first time in the Report on the Future of Farming and Food. Wales has chosen to promote a new type of neo-productivist and multifunctional agriculture that responds to the logic and opportunities presented by the emerging rural development paradigm. supply chain linkages and the performance of processors and primary producers (Welsh Development Agency. agriculture becomes a multifunctional enterprise that delivers safe and healthy food and non-food products. interpretation of the ideals of multifunctionality. an emerging political discourse is currently trying to fill this policy vacuum through a new agenda for endogenous rural development based upon a food chain perspective. This prompted a new agenda for rural policy in the UK that. this document rests its vision on a number of ‘cross-cutting’ strategic goals aiming at improving simultaneously market focus. 1999: 3). This is. the Report supports multifunctional agriculture. organic and short-supply chains. In fact. 2002: 53–54). rather than the old sectoral and corporatist system. valueadded. Ideally. The Welsh Assembly Government has probably gone furthest of all. 2002: 42–43).’’ The alternative envisioned in this document is ‘‘to move as far as possible along the spectrum towards competing less on price and more on quality’’ (Government of the National Assembly for Wales. Central to the Welsh strategy is the development of a ‘supplychain’ approach to the farm crisis that. this means ‘‘developing high-quality. simultaneously. In practice. the Welsh document makes a direct connection between the quality of food production and the quality of life of the small food producer (Morgan et al. branded products which are aimed. These include: (1) supporting Welsh products in terms of ‘quality. paralleling this emphasis on non-agricultural production. dairy and organic sectors. In contrast with the Curry Report. 2001: 9). known as the ‘Curry Report’. central for broader aspects of sustainable rural development. In addition to emphasizing the benefits of a ‘joined-up’ approach to the development of the food industry in terms of focus and delivery (Welsh Development Agency. Although clear about the key economic challenge facing Wales on the route to a quality-driven agri-food sector. 2002: 104). the strategy rests on three pillars that embrace all actors in the food chain. This shapes a more territorially-based model of agriculture that emphasizes. as we noticed with regard to Wales’ approach to CAP reform..T. to promote demand by encouraging public sector bodies to purchase more locally-produced food. by emphasizing the development of local food systems. as demonstrated by the launch of the ‘Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative’ in August 2003. economic and ecological embeddedness. 2001: 13). In short. 1996: II–III). in other words. the Partnership took a series of initiatives that targeted different aspects of the food chain. its social. the Curry Report outlines a more re-embedded. Another promising market for locally-produced food and. abattoirs and meat processorsdto work much more closely to differentiate their products further and gear up to meet the needs of a rapidly developing consumer marketplace’’ (Agri-food Partnership. By encouraging farmers to reconnect with consumers. three sector groups were established to identify targets and develop action plans for the red meat. followed by the publication of DEFRA’s practical guidance to public sector bodies as to how they could legally build sustainable development criteria into their procurement of food and catering (Morgan and Sonnino. In this new system. payments to farmers are advocated ‘‘only for public benefits that the public wants and needs’’ (Policy Commission. As stated in Farming for the Future (Government of the National Assembly for Wales. ‘‘if Welsh farming and food processing continue to try to compete on price alone in basic food commodity markets. model of agriculture. to develop local and regional foods and to add value through further processing and marketing (Policy Commission. rather than the conventional agroindustrial model. and from marketing initiatives to secure contracts for Welsh lamb and beef in Safeway stores to financial investment in the organic food processing sector (Agri-food Partnership. Farming for the Future does not propose a marketled model of agriculture. However. for example. the Report also advocates local food as ‘‘one of the greatest opportunities for farmers to add value and retain a bigger slice of retail value’’ (Policy Commission. is promoting an agricultural. public procurement. 2002: 43). in the UK. one of the main goals of the Agri-food Partnership Strategy Review. these plans advocate a ‘supply-chain approach’ to the farm crisis that emphasizes value-adding activities and re-embeds agriculture in the wider rural economy and environment. 2001: 10–11). for multifunctional agriculture is. consumers. From the perspective of multifunctional agriculture. the Strategic Action Plan for the Welsh Lamb and Beef Sector underlines the ‘‘urgent need for all the players in the ‘traditional’ red meat supply sector dproducers. Local food and multifunctional agriculture (from below) The Foot and Mouth crisis in 2001 clearly expressed the dependence of rural areas and agriculture upon rural tourism and consumption as much as agricultural activities per se. However. the result will be a strong continuation of the long-term trends which have been eroding the pattern of the family farm. R. (2) developing markets for Welsh products. rather than rural. In the two years that followed the publication of the action plans.

hygiene and fiscal control. an agency of DEFRA. so as to obtain as much synergy as possible between the policy frameworks and the different types of rural and agricultural needs. dedicated institutions’’ (Ward et al. and the repercussions of devolution. Wales has begun to capitalize on the new opportunities for regional distinctiveness offered by the CAP reform and devolution to develop an innovative and more endogenous form of rural and agricultural governance. 2003: 211). R. with more specific regard to rural policy. the Rural Development Service. In assuming responsibility for developing a strategy for coordinated economic development and regeneration of both the urban and the rural areas of their regions. The South West region. 1998: 472). This contradiction is especially evident in the vision of the future of farming and food presented by the Curry Report. which policy-makers explicitly present as Welsh in both its essence and its goals (Marsden and Sonnino. In other words. farming and rural development. however. decentralization began to occur in 1999 with the establishment of the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). 2002: 20). However. which aspires to be less closely aligned with the ‘farming lobby’. English farmers are urged to reconnect with their conventional markets by rediscovering ‘‘their businessman’s mind. implementation issues were transferred to a National Strategy Group and sister Regional Programming Groups. their marketing skills and their eye for new opportunities’’ (Policy Commission. devolution and the regionalization of rurality also contributed to the revised implementation and administration of rural policies. in practice the regionalization of rurality has yet to show real development in England. became responsible for the promotion and delivery of the ERDP schemes. So far. Second. Food and Fisheries (MAFF) to the newly created Food Standards Agency (FSA). As a major coordinator of rural activities. these forms of evolutionary governance reflect a fundamental political ambiguity in the UK that creates significant barriers to the development and reconfiguration of the farming sector. were fed into the new Rural Affairs Forum and were broadened to include both governments and NGOs. 2005. In England. with its own set of monolithic. Implementing multifunctional policies? Regional variation in a decentralized governance context These recent changes in rural and agricultural policy discourse have been accompanied by a considerable overhauling of state administrative structures for food. endorsed by the major corporate retailers. First.. In this region. new food chains and organic farming suggest positive encouragement for some forms of sustainable rural development. the development of its ‘supply-chain’ approach to farming redefined the role of the State as an orchestrator of agricultural. food producers are encouraged to develop the ‘alternative’ sector di. environmental and rural development networks formed by state agencies that can only act in relation to others. rural development is then beginning to challenge the more established agro-industrial and post-productivist models. 2003: 210) dnamely.. the Food Standards Agency and DEFRA. 2003). thereby creating . on the other hand a re-strengthened and centralized State is attempting to assure the quality demands of both food and countryside consumers by imposing highly restrictive planning. which raised the need ` for MAFF ‘‘to consolidate itself vis-a-vis the new devolved executives as the agricultural ministry for England’’ (Ward and Lowe. which implies an agri-food model based on a bifurcated system. Sonnino and Marsden. and a number of organizational changes in the regional structures and CAP payment systems affected the modalities for the delivery of the RDP. farming and rural development. the RDAs have ideally become important actors in the planning and implementation of rural development policies in England (Ward et al. highly centralized agricultural ministries that traditionally view farming as a separate economic sector and do not engage with the range of rural interests (Lowe and Ward. The implementation of the RDP is a case in point. and this is likely to thwart both endogenous forms of rural development and agri-food innovation. As discussed above. 2004: 132).428 T. MAFF became part of the new Department for the Environment.e. 2001: 12). the Welsh Development Agency (now incorporated into the National Assembly) has the challenging task to match and manage this process in line with different strategies for agri-food. as Jones and MacLeod (2004: 434) argue. In questioning why the regional dimension to the ERDP has been developed so weakly despite the rhetoric surrounding it and the inclusion of separate chapters for each English region. the responsibility for food safety and consumer protection was transferred from the Ministry for Agriculture.. Resulting from a stream of food scares. the economic imperatives that are at the heart of their ‘regionalization’ project may be confronted by locally-rooted forms of ‘regionalism’ more receptive to questions of political participation and territorial identity. Specifically. This socio-political transition in Wales is beginning to provide a new platform for a neo-productivist and multifunctional view of agriculture. on the one hand. One year later. Sonnino / Journal of Rural Studies 24 (2008) 422–431 distinctive local food products that support tourism and a positive image of Wales (Government of the National Assembly for Wales. On the other hand. now represents a major obstacle to the further development of multifunctional agriculture. In short. utilized for consultation on implementation. Marsden. As Ward and Lowe (2004: 131–132) summarize. Paralleling these organizational changes. even though ideally the evolution of the RDAs role in rural development is a key element in the move away from a national and centralized conception of rurality and a national approach to rural policy (Ward et al. Ward and Lowe (2004) point to three main factors: the lack of a tradition of regional discretion and administrative decentralization within MAFF (now DEFRA). RDAs have entered ‘‘a policy field that is long established. While. There are two main reasons for this. it seems that there have been limits as to the extent to which agricultural and food policies can be effectively decentralized in the English regions. to increase the market share of niche products such as local. 5. On the one hand. emerging in the context of a strong regional agri-environmental policy. since RDA boundaries align with an administrative geography established in the immediate post-war period for managing a pre-Fordist economy. Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). is capitalizing on a strong tourist economy to develop a range of coordinated and network-based alternative agri-food initiatives at the regional and local levels (Marsden and Sonnino. With regard to the potential for the rural development paradigm and multifunctional agriculture. a weak organization of regional rural interest groups. agriculture is re-emphasized and re-positioned for its contribution to achieving rural sustainability. regional and organic foods. In 2000. this highly rationalist system of risk management. This bifurcated and increasingly regulated agri-food system is likely to have different implications for the development of multifunctional agriculture in England. for example. the national and regional ERDP Consultation Groups. so far the RDAs have not really promoted regional models of development that re-position agriculture for its contribution to achieving rural sustainability.. 2005). the establishment of the RDAs and the increased availability of grants for nature management. locality. By constraining the development of quality foods and on-farm processing. 2006). this ‘hygienic/bureaucratic’ mode of regulation of the countryside has (somewhat ironically) forced farmers wishing to diversify into nonindustrially produced foods to comply with the logic and requirements of the conventional agri-food system.

while also supporting CAP reform towards more environmental compliance of farmers. At the central government level. as we have seen. to do this around a more vibrant notion of multifunctionality. Sonnino / Journal of Rural Studies 24 (2008) 422–431 429 potential for a more multifunctional agricultural system. in particular. 1999). but variably) at the regional level to decentralize and diversify the agricultural and rural base. In the more industrialized agricultural areas of Eastern England. essentially complements the neo-liberal approach to agricultural markets. committed to the principles of the rural development paradigm. multifunctional activities are not yet a development option. it does not display a real form of sustainable rural development with respect to agricultural multifunctionality. which rewards larger farms. England selected a flat-rate area payment. multifunctional principles are still largely restricted to the agri-industrial or post-productivist models introduced at the start of the paper. this frames a restrictive and largely contradictory context within which to develop more positive rural and agri-food policies that could help British farmers to step off the ‘race to the bottom’ productivist treadmill. on the one hand. which is largely about a spatial and land-based protection of the post-productivist countryside. the current complex and multi-level governance system tends to actively marginalize the process of constructing a new and more integrated agricultural sector that corresponds to the real needs of civil society. rather than trying to compete in the markets for basic agriculture and food commodities. environmental and social sustainability (Government of the National Assembly for Wales. Farming for the Future encouraged Welsh farmers to develop highquality. As such.. Unlike the Curry Report. despite the opportunities . Wales is unambiguously committed to an integrated model of agriculture that aims at economic. South West England and parts of Walesdwhere we see more intense bottom-up entrepreneurial and ecological enterprise initiatives designed to achieve agricultural multifunctionality by creating innovative ruptures. these are both highly linked. a more radical and agriculturally-centred approach to multifunctional agriculture. and the continued vibrancy of post-productivist (environmental and amenity) interests on the other.T. by calculating the SFP on the average claims made by Welsh farmers between 2000 and 2002. then. Moreover. In this sense. It is in fact in these regions de. as a result of these processes of regionalization. More specifically. in turn. These two government departments are severely antipathetic towards the idea of new forms of state assistance for a multifunctional agriculture. In contrast to England. Marsden. with prevailing contradictory state policies. Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and. which are. however. and that. which expresses itself in the Assembly’s strong support for the family farm. is hindered in policy terms not only by a timidity in DEFRA. there is very little (if any) potential for the development of a more re-embedded and multifunctional model of agriculture. as part of the sustainable rural development paradigm. 2001: 12). Conclusions: The denial and marginalization of real agricultural multifunctionality in the UK As the last section of the paper indicates. 2004a) and the UK as a whole becomes significantly less self-sufficient in food production. where farmers increasingly have to accommodate the privateinterest models of regulation and governance led by the corporate retailers (Marsden.g. especially since the Blair government of 1997. Successive Ministers for Agriculture are reluctant to contradict the flow of policies from the Department for Business. it is likely to hold more potential in regions. Meanwhile. of course) become more ‘liberalized’ and to avoid any deviations from the principles of European competition policy that might strengthen local and regional protectionism. policy development is still ‘locked in’ to placating agri-industrial interests. these attempts do add up. more profoundly. This is the contradiction between the stimulation for an increasingly rationalist and retailer-led food supply system (based on a highly innovative and state-supported agri-industrial model) and a series of attempts (largely. it is important to contextualize multifunctional agriculture in the UK as being located at the heart of a broader contradiction concerning the evolution of UK policy towards agri-food and rural development.g. therefore. combined with regional measures under the reformed CAP (e. At the heart of this strategy is an emphasis on the social and cultural dimension of sustainability. Moreover. This commitment also explains another significant difference between Wales and England with regard to the direction given to the farming sector under the reformed CAP. given the history of significant but inefficient support for the agri-industrial (CAP) model and the overall public distrust this brought to previous administrations. such as Wales and the South West of England. is helping small producers. there is also a reluctance on the part of DEFRA to decentralize too many powers to the regions and. As a result. The real ideological politics of agri-food in the UK is to let ‘the markets’ (increasingly dominated by the corporate retailers. This role. and at least some potential. or especially. rather than compromises. it is in the devolved administrations and more peripheral rural regions that there is both a perceived need. however. These reflections and arguments point to some severe limitations in both the ‘policy-development’ and indeed critical social science research in this area in the UK. There are then severe political as well as policy restraints to the promotion of agricultural multifunctionality that extend far deeper into the political frameworks and fabric of the UK than simply those associated with delivering rural and agricultural policy per se. as defined by the three criteria outlined earlier. based on hectarage. whereas in regions such as the East of England. One of these has been the growing environmental agenda. it is likely to be unevenly developed. even though this term is still conveniently side-stepped in established UK policy-discourses. by the UK Treasury. value-added and branded products aimed at specialist and niche markets. mean that multifunctional agriculture will develop very unevenly in the UK. In short. for political and social mobilization in this regard. thereby severely hampering (regional and local) initiatives and mobilizations that may lead to a more radical redefinition and reconfiguration of agricultural and rural resources. and its espousal of ideas of post-productivism influencing policy debates at the national level. It is in fact strategically easier for them to maintain central functions and then govern by allowing competitive projects. from the Treasury. Interestingly. devolution and regionalization. In some cases. It has yet to develop a more autonomous break or rupture with this paradigmatic conundrum (Frouws and Mol. These differential trends indicate that progress towards multifunctionality as rural development must be assessed in relation to both its regional market and its regional governance context. Indeed. to the beginnings of a shift towards multifunctionality as rural development. but also by the watchful eye of both the UK Department of Trade and Industry (recently re-named Department for Business. the fate of the annual agricultural budget is partly determined on the basis of a series of quid pro quos in which wider macro-economic concerns increasingly play a role. UK competition policy continues to allow the oligopolistic behaviour of the downstream corporate agri-food processors and retailers (see Marsden. Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) and. At the same time. In one sense. to a different extent and in different ways. 6. As we have attempted to show. 2003: 151). There is now a real need for some serious critical analysis of this process. the RDR). While Wales elected to implement the reform by adopting an historic payment system that. where the agro-industrial and post-productivist paradigms prevail. R. for example.

.] Especially in fields like environmental management. J. they may need less high profile and time dependent ‘projects’ and more innovative forms of ‘demand management’ from the State. C. Partnership in Action.. Doetinchem. Eikeland. There is little contemporary political economy of these new sets of relationships.. W. In other words. 1999. Marsden. Agri-food Partnership. A further area of research concerns the actual role of new producer networks in shaping agricultural multifunctionality. Westview Press. there are few academic ‘road-maps’ as to how real rural development could proceed in the agricultural sector (Marsden. characterised by crosssectoral and multi-level policy problems. S. therefore. New rural pluriactivity? Household strategies and rural renewal in Norway. Elsevier. Institute for European Environmental Policy. In summary. there is little critical research that explores the contradictory nature of policy developments..D. Projects have become symbols of efficiency. The Welsh Lamb and Beef Sector.. Demand management and the marketing of food products is seen as best left ‘to the market’. G. Journal of Rural Studies 10 (1). for exampledthat the ‘project State’ has been most reluctant to intervene. Moreover. Living Countrysides: Rural Development Processes in Europe: The State of the Art.. 1994. Devolution has excited many social scientists.J.. Farm pluriactivity and rural policy: some evidence from Wales. Agro-Ecology: The Scientific Basis of Alternative Agriculture. Farm Prices: Myth and Reality. 2006). Rather. Progress Report and Key Priorities for the Wales Agri-food Partnership towards 2003. Banks. farming systems and rural development: Tir Cymen in Wales. it is widely assumed that the only way to govern now is through setting up more and more competitively organized ¨ ‘projects’. Marsden and Murdoch. A Strategic Action Plan. Cardiff. Bristow. For instance. the number of informal governance instruments has increased at all administrative levels. Bateman. In: van der Ploeg. 1992. Integrating agri-environmental policy. [. As many farmers feel excluded as included.. As a result. 2000. J. D. as this analysis of recent policy suggests. there has been limited critical research in examining how the three competing models of multifunctionality evaluated here actually play out in different rural regions. functional and. what conceptual developments and (multifunctional social science) tools are needed to examine it and progress it? Acknowledgements The evidence and analysis contained in this paper have originated from two research projects: the EU-sponsored project MULTAGRI (505297) and an ESRC-sponsored project entitled Going Local? Regional Innovation Strategies and the New Agri-food Paradigm (Toe50021). D. Banks. Using modulation to green the CAP: The UK case.. has tended to blinker a fuller understanding of the empowering and enriching role that the state could potentially play by releasing the innovative potential of the rural land-based sector. and more sophisticated critical understandings of neo-liberalism in agri-food. Minneapolis. for example. K. A Report on behalf of the Wildlife and Countryside Link. As Sjoblom and Godenhjelm (under review: 1) more generally argue: During the past decades the systems of governance have been transformed in response to supra-national as well as national demands. Sociologia Ruralis 40 (4). project-led. Falconer. the State can only promote selective ‘supply-side’ initiatives (like the Rural Enterprise Scheme and local food fairs). Sonnino / Journal of Rural Studies 24 (2008) 422–431 that a closer and more positive sets of relationships has created both for social scientists and for effective policy development (such as Farming for the Future and the Curry Report. adaptability. The potential of real agricultural multifunctionality raises an awkward political and scientific question: to what extent can we see the slow emergence and social struggle of a more autonomous multifunctional process taking hold in rural development processes? And if we can. as well as the devolved authorities. Cochrane. Wales. Altieri. usually on a competitive basis. 2006). that ‘market’ is highly regulated both by the hygienicbureaucratic state and by the private quality and procurement schemes implemented by retailers. T.. academic research has become more fragmented. existing state policies. benign. The Rural Development Regulation in Britain: Fulfilling the Promise. Structure. In addition. for example.. Ilbery. The Welsh Development Agency. 1–13. N. Banks. These projects involved both secondary and primary research (interviews with policy officials at the EU. Farm-based accommodation and the restructuring of agriculture: evidence from three English counties. their impacts or their lack of effectiveness in rural areas. Social scientists (especially since 1997) have been so busy descriptively following these various initiatives. However. or how struggles for multifunctionality as rural development continue to remain marginalized in a context of prevailing agri-industrialism and post-productivism.. 1958. there is an implicit acceptance of what we might term ‘the project State’. Baldock. rather than because of. 19–33. University of Minnesota Press. 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