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Fulvio Rizzo. Karelian Institute University of Eastern Finland . Conventional farmers’ attitudes on farm diversification and on policy-making: the Finnish context . ESRS XXV, Florence, July 29 th August 1 st 2013. 1. Introduction. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Conventional farmers attitudes on farm diversification and on policy-making: the Finnish context

Conventional farmers attitudes on farm diversification and on policy-making: the Finnish context

Fulvio Rizzo

Karelian InstituteUniversity of Eastern Finland ESRS XXV, Florence, July 29th August 1st 20131. IntroductionDuring the last two decades, a variety of theoretical debates about the nature, changes, and future trajectories of agricultural and rural systems has emerged

End of conventional agriculture?

The emergence of a multifunctional regime

Rural development: process that will result in the removal of peasants ?

European countryside as different expressions of repeasantization?

Food sovereignty

Within the Finnish context, this research paper focuses on conventional farmers attitudes on economic diversification within the farm, and on policy-making.

As for the first objective, potential economic activities which may support farmers incomes within the farm are discussed. Attention is given to organic farming, local food, bio-energy production, and agri-tourism.

Firstly, farmers attitudes to the support schemes of the Common Agricultural Policy are examined. Secondly, it is investigated the role of the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) in supporting farmers interests and economic opportunities.

2. Research questions Fifteen qualitative semi-structured interviews

Board representatives and members of the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK)

The interviews have been collected in all the three categories of rural areas defined by the Finnish Rural Policy Committee: 1) remote rural areas; 2) rural heartland areas; 3) urban-adjacent rural areas

Six dairy farms (one of them also had fur farming), five meat farms, and three crop farms

Farms extension varies from 25 hectares of a dairy farm located in North Savo, to 250 hectares of a crop farm located in Uusimaa.

Thematic, and interdiscursive analysis

3. Methods and methodology

4. Location of study areas

North Karelia North Savo Uusimaa In the first decade of the 21st century, the number of farms decreased by about one-fifth. In 2010, there were about 17,000 fewer farms in Finland than at the beginning of the millennium. The rate of decline has been moderate compared with the early 1990s and the first years of Finlands membership of the EUStructural changes in agriculture: 1) enlargement of farm enterprises (most farms in the period 2005-2007 are in the 50 to 200 hectares category); on the other hand, small farms (less than ten hectares) have almost disappeared 2) decline of the members enrolled in the local Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) throughout the years 3) specialization of production in specific areas of the countryFinnish farms have a relatively high degree of diversification in European context; in 2010, 31 % of Finnish farms were diversified

Structural changes in agriculture: the Finnish contextTheoretical starting point: throughout history, agricultural activity has been more a SOCIO-CULTURAL rather than a mechanistic profit-making endeaviour

Territory as physical, social, political, and cultural system

Two key debates:

productivism versus post-productivism (multifunctional agricultural regime); agency versus structure5. Theoretical background 1) Attitudes to economic diversification

Organic farmingCharacteristics of the terrain: examples: clay soil, weed, lack of spaceType of cultivation: cow waste seen as important condition for implementing organicEconomic factors: major investments; Policy factors: strategies from milk companies

Agri-tourismAttitudes to risk and profitabilty; Contingent conditions as presence of road infrastructure, presence of lakes in the area;Closeness to urban areas

6. Results Local food (how to define it?)Local food selling heavily dependent on food policies which follow market logic; Type of farm;Geographical location

Renewable energyWood energy and cow waste seen as having economic potential; cow waste used for heating purposes within the farmAmount of forest owned; Attitudes on economic profit; Local knowledge

Support schemes of the CAP:Impossibility of long-term planning investmentsExpenses grow all the time, incomes do notFarm enlargement as tool for farm survivalHeavy bureuacracy, which is constantly changingRole of the subsidiesBoundaries of support areas

Role of the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK)From a social role to a bureaucratic roleFrom a decision-making role to a lobbying and advising roleCenter of gravity has moved from Helsinki to Brussels

2) Attitudes to policy making The local level, particularly the farm level represent the key scale for any investigation of agricultural processes

Regardless of the location , farmers attitudes to economic diversification and policy-making are constructed upon three factors, which are to a various extent connected to each other:

1) geographically contingent conditions which may represent a challenge or an opportunity for farmers to support their income beyond the production of food and fibre; 2) external factors (as international policy making, and market liberalization); 3) farmers personal views on profitability and risk

7. Discussion and Conclusion However, agricultural activity, both in its conventional and diversified form, seems to be mostly supported by artificial processes rather than being anchored to its natural foundation, which is the territory in its complex and integrated meaning of physical environment, built environment, and human environment

In spite of increasing multifunctionality discourses at the policy-making level, conventional farmers still retain to a large degree a productivist mindset