SURE-Farm aims to analyse, assess and improve the resilience and sustainability of farms and farming systems in the EU. For this purpose, SURE-Farm creates scenarios and a novel and comprehensive resilience-enabling framework, develops a set of advanced risk assessment and management tools as well as an improved demographic assessment model and a resilience assessment tool for policies, and in conjunction with stakeholders, co-creates and applies an integrated resilience assessment model and co-designs implementation roadmaps. The SURE-farm project comprises six interrelated objectives:
The SURE-Farm project builds on concepts of resilience thinking and develops a comprehensive framework to identify the conditions that enable farming systems to become and remain resilient to a broad range of current and imminent stressors. Resilience thinking is essentially systems thinking that emphasizes change, uncertainty, interconnectivity and adaptability. Systems are resilient if they have the capacity to adapt to changing circumstances and challenges while maintaining their core functions, including the delivery of their vital goods and services.
At the heart of resilience thinking is the concept of adaptive cycles which has been developed in ecology and which SURE-Farm uses as a conceptual metaphor to understand change in farming systems. Adaptive cycles consist of four stages: growth, equilibrium, collapse and reorientation.
The SURE-Farm activities are organized into nine work packages, whose main objectives and activities are summarized below.
WP1: Resilience concept
This WP elaborates the conceptual framework of the project. In particular it aims to:
1. To develop an analytical framework for measuring the resilience of current and future EU agricultural systems and the determinants of this resilience, including the mechanisms that influence the resilience and ability of the farming sector to deliver public and private goods in the long term.
2. To elaborate future scenarios to test the robustness of the various indicators with regard to practices and policies developed throughout the project.
3. To design a typology of farms and farming systems to guide work in subsequent.
WP2: Risk management behaviour and strategies
This WP aims to comprehensively understand farmers’ risk behaviour and risk management decisions, and to develop and test risk management strategies and decision support tools that farmers can use to cope with increasing economic, environmental and social uncertainties and risks. By developing a coherent approach for the analysis of risk behavior and risk management instruments, this WP contributes to the development of risk management in EU farming systems.
More specifically, this WP aims to:
1. To understand and elicit farmers’ risk perceptions and preferences.
2. To understand farmers’ adaptive behaviour, learning capacity and preferred improvements of current risk management tools.
3. To design and analyse improved strategies to deal with extreme weather, with particular emphasis on weather index-based insurances and approaches based on remote sensing.
4. To co-create improved risk management tools and map related institutional challenges.
WP3: Demographics of farms and farm labour
As a consequence of EU enlargement and structural changes, EU agriculture has become extremely diverse in terms of farm size and farm size distributions, ranging from regions with a dominance of small family farms to regions dominated by large corporate farms that rely on hired labour. Some regions even have dualistic farm structures with many small family farms and a substantial number of large corporate farms, which farm a large share of the land. Each of these regions faces its specific challenges regarding ongoing and necessary adjustment processes towards current and future economic, technological, environmental and political conditions to avoid the risk of losing competitiveness in input and output markets or even a collapse of farms or farming systems.
This includes availability of farm successors as well as adequate seasonal and permanent labour force for hiring. Against this background, this WP aims to provide a better understanding of the underlying demographics and their trends and drivers, and to identify opportunities for increasing the resilience of farm demographics and entry into the sector. Farm demographics is thereby defined along two dimensions: from an institutional perspective it represents the structure of the population of farms, e.g., regarding legal forms and organisation; from a human resource perspective it represents the structure of the agricultural labour force considering characteristics like age, qualification, gender, origin.
The specific objectives of this WP are:
1. To provide qualitative and quantitative information on current farm demographics and their trends and identify the drivers underlying the entry and exit of farms and farm labour.
2. To analyse the interdependence of farm demographics, farm labour and farm structure using a novel farm demographics tool, including the opportunities for new entrants and the conditions under which entrants find promising perspectives under changing environmental environments.
3. To identify and evaluate potential options for an improved enabling environment that facilitates promising and resilient entry of farms and farmers, including farm labour.
WP4: The capacity of policies (in particular CAP) to enhance resilient and sustainable agriculture
The resilience of European farming systems is affected by a complex and multi-layered web of policies, especially the CAP, which to differing degrees support or constrain the capacity of regional farming systems to adapt to changing economic, social and environmental demands and circumstances. Key characteristics of resilience-enhancing policies are: room for flexibility and built-in policy adjustments, promotion of variation and multi-stakeholder deliberation, encouragement of learning and experimentation, wise balance between robustness and change, and accommodation of self-organisation and decentralised decision-making.
This WP will develop a policy resilience assessment tool (ResAT) that operationalises these key characteristics into measurable indicators for the capacity of relevant policies to support the adaptation of farming systems to the full range of relevant risks. Subsequently, the ResAT will be used to assess the effects of the various CAP elements on the resilience of farming systems and to analyse how this EU framework, when mediated through multi-level implementation and embedded in multi-sectoral policies, will evolve at the regional farming system level. The insights from these assessments will be used to co-create policy options that strengthen resilience-enhancing policies for the EU agricultural system.
The specific objectives of this WP are:
1. To develop a resilience assessment tool for policies, that also provides entry points and orientation for improvements.
2. To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the CAP (and its transposition in the 11 member states of our case studies) in terms of its capacity to enhance farming system resilience.
3. To perform a bottom-up evaluation of how the web of multilevel and multi-sectoral policies evolves at the level of the regional farming systems and how it enables or constrains resilience.
4. To co-create (with stakeholders) policy options that enhance the resilience of EU farming systems and governance strategies to realise these options.
5. To provide concrete policy recommendations for the CAP post-2020.
WP5: Integrated assessment of the resilience of farming systems and their delivery of goods
This WP aims to analyse the integrated impact of resilience-enhancing strategies on the selected farming systems, in particular regarding their delivery of private and public goods. It will make complementary use of existing models (static and dynamic, quantitative and qualitative) and incorporate these in the integrated assessment (IA) tool. These models include TechnoGIN, Farm System SIMulator (FSSIM), the agent-based model of farm structural change AgriPoliS, a spatially explicit model to assess ecosystem services, system dynamic models, and Framework for Participatory Impact Assessment (FoPIA).
The IA tool will be used to:
1. Assess the current resilience and delivery of private and public goods for selected farming systems across the EU.
2. Assess the impact of future challenges.
3. Assess the expected impact of resilience-enhancing strategies (and combinations of resilience-enhancing strategies).
WP6: Integration and assessment of water and land management strategies, policy recommendations and exploitation
To increase the resilience of EU agriculture, an enabling environment must be created that increases the capacity of the farming sector to face economic, social and environmental challenges and to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances that could disturb or undermine the delivery of its vital goods and services. The enabling environment is a set of interrelated conditions – legal, institutional, organisational, informational, infrastructural, political and cultural – that enhance the farming sectors’ capacity to adapt, to cope with uncertainties and to avoid collapse.
The objective of this WP is to address the two remaining challenges.
1. Firstly, to systematically understand which integrated combinations of enabling conditions effectively enhance the resilience of farms and farming systems, taking into account possible interactions among different elements of the enabling environment that might lead to synergetic or trade-off effects.
2. Secondly, to develop integrated recommendations for decision makers, such as governments and stakeholders involved in farming and associated businesses. These recommendations comprise guiding principles for resilience-enabling governance and roadmaps towards their implementation in the various EU contexts.
WP7: Dissemination, exploitation and communication
The objective of this WP is to disseminate the results of the project and use the co-creation platform to ensure that farmers, stakeholders, policy makers and non-partner scientists can contribute with ideas, feedback and relevant information/data. The WP will use different means to measure the project’s impact following web analytics and other social media.
The WP has six specific objectives:
1. To disseminate findings over a wide range of stakeholders, member state governments, EC officers, policy actors and farmers’ organisations, in a way that helps them understand the challenges for the resilience of EU agriculture in general, and for specific farming systems.
2. To create an informed opinion among stakeholders about the main drivers of farm demographics in the EU, using robust indicators and smart infographics.
3. To convey clear messages about the complex determinants of farming system resilience, and help stakeholders build a systems thinking approach to understanding the dynamics of farm demographics.
4. To develop effective communication strategies to reach the general public and society, using general communication media to raise awareness about farms’ resilience, adaptation, transformation and risks of abandonment.
5. To create virtual (cocreation platform) and face-to-face venues for discussion, both at the highest level of influence (in member states and EC) and at intermediate levels (farm organisations, cooperatives and consumer groups).
6. To issue press releases, including texts and infographics, to be disseminated in social media with the project’s findings and conclusions.
WP8 manages the SURE-Farm project. The specific objectives are to assure a high-quality approach for all tasks of the project and assure adherence to ethics rules.
WP9 Ethics requirements