Find below the spin-off papers written by SURE-Farm partners contributing to the literature on the resilience of the agricultural sector.
Miranda P.M. Meuwissen et al., 2019. A framework to assess the resilience of farming systems, Agricultural Systems, Volume 176.
Agricultural systems in Europe face accumulating economic, ecological and societal challenges, raising concerns about their resilience to shocks and stresses. These resilience issues need to be addressed with a focus on the regional context in which farming systems operate because farms, farmers' organizations, service suppliers and supply chain actors are embedded in local environments and functions of agriculture. We define resilience of a farming system as its ability to ensure the provision of the system functions in the face of increasingly complex and accumulating economic, social, environmental and institutional shocks and stresses, through capacities of robustness, adaptability and transformability. We (i) develop a framework to assess the resilience of farming systems, and (ii) present a methodology to operationalize the framework with a view to Europe's diverse farming systems. The framework is designed to assess resilience to specific challenges (specified resilience) as well as a farming system's capacity to deal with the unknown, uncertainty and surprise (general resilience). The framework provides a heuristic to analyze system properties, challenges (shocks, long-term stresses), indicators to measure the performance of system functions, resilience capacities and resilience-enhancing attributes. Capacities and attributes refer to adaptive cycle processes of agricultural practices, farm demographics, governance and risk management. The novelty of the framework pertains to the focal scale of analysis, i.e. the farming system level, the consideration of accumulating challenges and various agricultural processes, and the consideration that farming systems provide multiple functions that can change over time. Furthermore, the distinction between three resilience capacities (robustness, adaptability, transformability) ensures that the framework goes beyond narrow definitions that limit resilience to robustness. The methodology deploys a mixed-methods approach: quantitative methods, such as statistics, econometrics and modelling, are used to identify underlying patterns, causal explanations and likely contributing factors; while qualitative methods, such as interviews, participatory approaches and stakeholder workshops, access experiential and contextual knowledge and provide more nuanced insights. More specifically, analysis along the framework explores multiple nested levels of farming systems over a time horizon of 1–2 generations, thereby enabling reflection on potential temporal and scalar trade-offs across resilience attributes. The richness of the framework is illustrated for the arable farming system in Veenkoloniën, the Netherlands. The analysis reveals a relatively low capacity of this farming system to transform and farmers feeling distressed about transformation, while other members of their households have experienced many examples of transformation.
Franziska Appel, Alfons Balmann, 2019. Human behaviour versus optimising agents and the resilience of farms – Insights from agent-based participatory experiments with FarmAgriPoliS, Ecological Complexity, Volume 40, Part B.
This paper aims to examine the extent to which human participants show higher resilience compared to computer agents in agent-based participatory experiments. We motivate and examine three types of resilient behaviour of farmers during a crisis or as response to competitive pressure: successful survival, loss-minimising farm exits, and path breaking respectively path creating growth strategies. Our experiments revealed that human decision makers recognised and exploited such resilient strategies in periods of crisis or under challenging circumstances in general better than myopic optimising agents, although they did not perform better on average. The reason can be seen in a substantial heterogeneity of human decision makers, for which we identified four categories: negligent gamblers, actors missing opportunities, solid farm managers and successful path breakers.
Hermine Mitter et al., 2019. A protocol to develop Shared Socio-economic Pathways for European agriculture, Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 252.
Moving towards a more sustainable future requires concerted actions, particularly in the context of global climate change. Integrated assessments of agricultural systems (IAAS) are considered valuable tools to provide sound information for policy and decision-making. IAAS use storylines to define socio-economic and environmental framework assumptions. While a set of qualitative global storylines, known as the Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs), is available to inform integrated assessments at large scales, their spatial resolution and scope is insufficient for regional studies in agriculture. We present a protocol to operationalize the development of Shared Socio-economic Pathways for European agriculture – Eur-Agri-SSPs – to support IAAS. The proposed design of the storyline development process is based on six quality criteria: plausibility, vertical and horizontal consistency, salience, legitimacy, richness and creativity. Trade-offs between these criteria may occur. The process is science-driven and iterative to enhance plausibility and horizontal consistency. A nested approach is suggested to link storylines across scales while maintaining vertical consistency. Plausibility, legitimacy, salience, richness and creativity shall be stimulated in a participatory and interdisciplinary storyline development process. The quality criteria and process design requirements are combined in the protocol to increase conceptual and methodological transparency. The protocol specifies nine working steps. For each step, suitable methods are proposed and the intended level and format of stakeholder engagement are discussed. A key methodological challenge is to link global SSPs with regional perspectives provided by the stakeholders, while maintaining vertical consistency and stakeholder buy-in. We conclude that the protocol facilitates systematic development
Termeer, C.J.A.M. et al., 2019. Institutions and the resilience of biobased production systems: the historical case of livestock intensification in the Netherlands, Ecology and Society 24 (4).
Disconnects between farming and urban systems are widely seen as impairing the resilience of biobased production systems (BBPSs). However, the institutional mechanisms that underlie these resilience problems are not well understood. In this explorative paper, which integrates elements from institutional and resilience theory, we develop a framework to analyze how institutionally shaped patterns of connects and disconnects affect the resilience of BBPs along the dimensions of robustness, adaptability, and transformability. This framework is applied to the historical case of pig livestock intensification in the Netherlands from 1870 to 2017. The case shows that institutions, successfully established in earlier periods, shape connects and disconnects in subsequent periods, thereby enabling and constraining resilience. A combination of perturbations, institutional layering, and shifts in ideational power is an important institutional mechanism for resilience. We conclude that building resilience requires a variety of reconnecting institutions and refraining from a focus on local reconnects or certification only.
Nera, E. et al., 2020. Assessing the Resilience and Sustainability of a Hazelnut Farming System in Central Italy with a Participatory Approach, Sustainability, 12, 343.
European agriculture is facing increasing economic, environmental, institutional, and social challenges, from changes in demographic trends to the effects of climate change. In this context of high instability, the agricultural sector in Europe needs to improve its resilience and sustainability. Local assessments and strategies at the farming system level are needed, and this paper focuses on a hazelnut farming system in central Italy. For the assessment, a participatory approach was used, based on a stakeholder workshop. The results depicted a system with a strong economic and productive role, but which seems to overlook natural resources. This would suggest a relatively low environmental sustainability of the system, although the actual environmental impact of hazelnut farming is controversial. In terms of resilience, we assessed it by looking at the perceived level of three capacities: robustness, adaptability, and transformability. The results portrayed a highly robust system, but with relatively lower adaptability and transformability. Taking the farming system as the focal level was important to consider the role of different actors. While mechanisation has played a central role in enhancing past and present system resilience, future improvements can be achieved through collective strategies and system diversification, and by strengthening the local hazelnut value chain.
Bertolozzi-Caredio, D. et al., 2020. Key steps and dynamics of family farm succession in marginal extensive livestock farming. Journal of Rural Studies,76, 131-141.
Succession trends in agriculture have been downward in many European regions, especially in the less favoured and mountainous areas of southern Europe. This article aims at understanding family farm succession dynamics in extensive livestock farming of two marginal areas in Spain. We approached the issue applying a qualitative methodology based on inductive content analysis of open interviews with 28 farmers and relatives. The evidence shows that family farm succession is a long-term and multidimensional process during which successors pass through three stages: potential succession, willingness to succeed and effective succession. The factors determining succession can be classed into four dimensions that affect the succession stages differently. Individual and familial dimensions are found to include the most influential factors shaping the potential successor, whereas the influence of familial factors drops in favour of the individual dimension at the willingness stage. The contextual and institutional dimensions mainly influence the willingness and effective succession stages. The scope of policies should be broadened beyond effective succession by enhancing the intention of willing successors to take over the business.
Bucheli J. Dalhaus, T., Finger, R., 2020. The optimal drought index for designing weather index insurance. European Review of Agricultural Economics, pp 1-25.
Climate change increases the need for better insurance solutions that enable farmers to cope with drought risks. We design weather index insurance using drought indices based on precipitation, soil moisture and evapotranspiration as underlying drought index and compare their risk-reducing potential for winter wheat producers in Eastern Germany. In general, we find that all drought indices can reduce financial risk exposure. However, the largest risk reduction can be achieved if the underlying drought index is tailored individually for each farm. This implies that insurers should offer insurance with farm-specific underlying drought index.
Mitter, H., A.-K. Techen, F. Sinabell, K. Helming, K. Kok, J. Priess, B. Bodirsky, I. Holman, H. Lehtonen, A. Leip, C. Le Mouël, E. Mathijs, B. Mehdi, M. Michetti, K. Mittenzwei, O. Mora, L. Øygarden, P. Reidsma, R. Schaldach, E. Schmid, M. Schoenhart, 2020. Shared Socio-economic Pathways for European agriculture and food systems: The Eur-Agri-SSPs. Global Environmental Change 65, 102159.
Scenarios describe plausible and internally consistent views of the future. They can be used by scientists, policymakers and entrepreneurs to explore the challenges of global environmental change given an appropriate level of spatial and sectoral detail and systematic development. We followed a nine-step protocol to extend and enrich a set of global scenarios – the Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) – providing regional and sectoral detail for European agriculture and food systems using a one-to-one nesting participatory approach. The resulting five Eur-Agri-SSPs are titled (1) Agriculture on sustainable paths, (2) Agriculture on established paths, (3) Agriculture on separated paths, (4) Agriculture on unequal paths, and (5) Agriculture on high-tech paths. They describe alternative plausible qualitative evolutions of multiple drivers of particular importance and high uncertainty for European agriculture and food systems. The added value of the protocol-based storyline development process lies in the conceptual and methodological transparency and rigor; the stakeholder driven selection of the storyline elements; and consistency checks within and between the storylines. Compared to the global SSPs, the five Eur-Agri-SSPs provide rich thematic and regional details and are thus a solid basis for integrated assessments of agriculture and food systems and their response to future socio-economic and environmental changes.
Bozzola, M., & Finger, R., 2020. Stability of risk attitude, agricultural policies and production shocks: evidence from Italy. European Review of Agricultural Economics.
This article investigates the stability of farmers’ risk attitude over time. To this end, we estimate responses to changes in agricultural policies and production shocks. We use a unique panel data of over 36,000 Italian farms specialised in cereals, during the period 1989–2009. We find evidence of risk preference changes over time in response to changes in the European Union Common Agricultural Policy and possibly after a drought-induced production shock.
Lievens e., Tielens K., Mathijs E., 2021. Creating a market for price swaps: Case study of an innovative risk management instrument in the Belgian-Dutch pear market. Agricultural Economics – Czech, 67 (1): 33–40.
While the beneﬁ ts of using futures to manage price risk are widely recognised, only certain groups of farmers have suitable futures at their disposal. Th is paper discusses an innovative instrument, developed in the Belgian-Dutch pear market, that provides an alternative to futures markets by creating a market for price swaps. Th us, the instrument provides some beneﬁ ts of market-traded derivatives (like futures) while remaining a relatively simple instrument, which requires fewer market transactions. Th e paper describes key properties of the swap contracts and the platform used to trade them. In addition, it compares the conditions required for establishing price swap markets and futures markets. Th us, our study informs the design of similar risk management instruments for commodities and contexts where futures are absent.
Meuwissen, M.P.M., et al., 2020. The Struggle of Farming Systems in Europe: Looking for Explanations through the Lens of Resilience. EuroChoices, Volume 19, Issue 2 p. 4-11.
Many farming systems in Europe are struggling to respond to accumulating economic, environmental, institutional and social challenges. From a resilience perspective, they need three distinct capacities to continue delivering products, income and public goods: robustness, adaptability and transformability. Based on a structured assessment of the resilience capacities of 11 farming systems across Europe we conclude that three mismatches likely contribute to their struggles. First, while farming systems comprised many non-farm actors, resilience strategies largely focused on farms and their robustness, neglecting other options and opportunities. Second, while the delivery of public goods such as biodiversity and attractive landscapes was seen as a major concern, most resilience strategies focused on the delivery of private goods. Third, while in many farming systems actors expressed the need for transformation, farming systems’ capacity to transform was perceived as low. Building on the differentiated concept of resilience, findings can guide policymakers, farming system actors, consumers and societal interest groups to identify pathways towards more resilient agricultural systems in Europe
Nicholas‐Davies P., Fowler S., Midmore P., 2020. Telling Stories – Farmers Offer New Insights into Farming Resilience. EuroChoices, Volume 19, Issue 2 p. 12-17.
We explore elements of resilience on East Anglian farms through analysis of nine farmers’ life stories. Using a largely unprompted narrative approach, narrators had freedom to structure their own personal accounts, and later to review our initial interpretations. Transcriptions were organised in timelines, themes were identified, and causes and effects of major farm turning points distinguished. We find that internal drivers such as intergenerational transition, health and family relationships, from the narrators’ viewpoint, were cited as producing more change than external pressures such as price volatility or production variation. Robust and especially adaptation responses are prevalent in the stories, transformations are neither particularly radical nor innovative, but widespread piecemeal change through time can accumulate to enhance resilience. Four farmers identified more as businesspeople, with blurred boundaries between their farming and other commercial interests. Farming succession, with occasional conflict and new problems arising from extended working lives, prompts most change. Insights can arise as much from what is unsaid in these stories, and self-explanation to outsiders can have cathartic effects. This narrative and analysis approach challenges preconceptions and can reframe theoretical perspectives and suggest approaches for policy reform. The focus was on existing farms with some resilience, further work should explore why former farmers were not resilient. Narrative analysis in other European countries showed important similarities in differing system contexts, but also divergences in the overall character of the life-stories.
Reidsma, et al. 2020. How do Stakeholders Perceive the Sustainability and Resilience of EU Farming Systems? EuroChoices, Volume 19, Issue 2 p. 18-27.
An increasing variety of stresses and shocks provides challenges and opportunities for EU farming systems. This article presents findings of a participatory assessment on the sustainability and resilience of eleven EU farming systems, to inform the design of adequate and relevant strategies and policies. According to stakeholders that participated in workshops, the main functions of farming systems are related to food production, economic viability and maintenance of natural resources. Performance of farming systems assessed with regard to these and five other functions was perceived to be moderate. Past strategies were often geared towards making the system more profitable, and to a lesser extent towards coupling production with local and natural resources, social self-organisation, enhancing functional diversity, and facilitating infrastructure for innovation. Overall, the resilience of the studied farming systems was perceived as low to moderate, with robustness and adaptability often dominant over transformability. To allow for transformability, being reasonably profitable and having access to infrastructure for innovation were viewed as essential. To improve sustainability and resilience of EU farming systems, responses to short-term processes should better consider long-term processes. Technological innovation is required, but it should be accompanied with structural, social, agro-ecological and institutional changes.
Slijper, T. 2020. Resilience, Labour and Migration Trends in the EU-27. EuroChoices, Volume 19, Issue 2 p. 28-29.
Spiegel et al., 2020. Risk Management and its Role in Enhancing Perceived Resilience Capacities of Farms and Farming Systems in Europe. EuroChoices, Volume 19, Issue 2 p. 45-53.
Long- term challenges and short- term shocks are inevitable in agriculture and affect the management of any farm or business entity in the farming system. We broaden the definition of RM in the context of resilience, including not only strategies to deal with shocks but also with long- term pressures on economic, environmental and social functions of farms and farming systems
Vroege W., Finger R., 2020. Insuring Weather Risks in European Agriculture. EuroChoices, Volume 19, Issue 2 p. 54-62.
Climate change will increase the magnitude and the occurrence probability of extreme weather events. Farms and farming systems in Europe will need to increase their resilience to these weather extreme events. The availability of a diverse spectrum of weather risk management strategies enhances the resilience of farming systems, because different farms, farming systems and weather risks require different solutions.
Buitenhuis, Y. et al., 2020. Improving the Resilience-enabling Capacity of the Common Agricultural Policy: Policy Recommendations for More Resilient EU Farming Systems. EuroChoices, Volume 19, Issue 2 p. 63-71.
One of the aims of the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is to improve the resilience of Europe's farming systems. The CAP of the budget period 2014–2020, however, has insufficiently supported the resilience of farming systems. The ongoing CAP reform process offers an appropriate opportunity to integrate a broader perspective on resilience in the CAP. We therefore propose a set of policy recommendations on how to improve the capability of the CAP to support more fully the resilience (i.e. robustness, adaptability and transformability) of farming systems in the EU. The policy recommendations are based on a comparative analysis of six national co-design workshops with stakeholders and a final EU-level workshop with Brussels-based experts. We concluded three key lessons about the CAP's influence on resilience: (1) resilience challenges, needs and policy effects are context-specific; (2) resilience capacities are complementary, but trade-offs between robustness, adaptability and transformability occur at the level of policies and due to budget competition; (3) there is a need for a coordinated long-term vision for Europe's agriculture, which is difficult to achieve through the bargaining processes associated with a CAP reform. We propose specific policy recommendations that could contribute to a better balance between policies that support robustness, adaptability and transformability of Europe's farming systems.
Vroege W., Vrieling A., Finger R., 2021. Satellite support to insure farmers against extreme droughts. Nature food.
Paas W., Coopmans I., Severini S., van Ittersum M. , Meuwissen M.P., Reidsma P., 2021. Participatory assessment of sustainability and resilience of three specialized farming systems. Ecology and Society 26(2):2.
There is a need for participatory methods that simultaneously assess agricultural sustainability and resilience at farming system level, as resilience is needed to deal with shocks and stresses on the pathways to more sustainable systems. We present the Framework of Participatory Impact Assessment for Sustainable and Resilient FARMing systems (FoPIA-SURE-Farm). FoPIA-SUREFarm investigates farming system functioning, dynamics of main indicators, and specifies resilience for different resilience capacities, i.e., robustness, adaptability, and transformability. Three case studies with specialized farming systems serve as an example for the used methodology: starch potato production in Veenkoloniën, The Netherlands; dairy production in Flanders, Belgium; and hazelnut production in Lazio, Italy. In all three farming systems, functions that related to food production, economic viability, and maintaining natural resources were perceived as most important. Perceived overall performance of system functions suggest moderate sustainability of the studied farming systems. In the studied systems, robustness was perceived to be stronger than adaptability and transformability. This indicates that finding pathways to higher sustainability, which requires adaptability and transformability, will be a challenging process. General characteristics of farming systems that supposedly convey general resilience, the so-called resilience attributes, were indeed perceived to contribute positively to resilience. Profitability, having production coupled with local and natural resources, heterogeneity of farm types, social self-organization, and infrastructure for innovation were assessed as being important resilience attributes. The relative importance of some resilience attributes in the studied systems differed from case to case, e.g., heterogeneity of farm types. This indicates that the local context in general, and stakeholder perspectives in particular, are important when evaluating general resilience and policy options based on resilience attributes. Overall, FoPIA-SURE-Farm results seem a good starting point for raising awareness, further assessments, and eventually for developing a shared vision and action plan for improving sustainability and resilience of farming systems
Meuwissen M.P.M. et al., 2021. Impact of Covid-19 on farming systems in Europe through the lens of resilience thinking. Agricultural systems, Volume 191, June 2021, 103152.
Resilience is the ability to deal with shocks and stresses, including the unknown and previously unimaginable, such as the Covid-19 crisis. This paper assesses (i) how different farming systems were exposed to the crisis, (ii) which resilience capacities were revealed and (iii) how resilience was enabled or constrained by the farming systems' social and institutional environment. The 11 farming systems included have been analysed since 2017. This allows a comparison of pre- Covid-19 findings and the Covid-19 crisis. Pre-Covid findings are from the SURE-Farm systematic sustainability and resilience assessment. For Covid-19 a special data collection was carried out during the early stage of lockdowns.Our case studies found limited impact of Covid-19 on the production and delivery of food and other agricultural products. This was due to either little exposure or the agile activation of robustness capacities of the farming systems in combination with an enabling institutional environment. Revealed capacities were mainly based on already existing connectedness among farmers and more broadly in value chains. Across cases, the experience of the crisis triggered reflexivity about the operation of the farming systems. Recurring topics were the need for shorter chains, more fairness towards farmers, and less dependence on migrant workers. However, actors in the farming systems and the enabling environment generally focused on the immediate issues and gave little real consideration to long-term implications and challenges. Hence, adaptive or transformative capacities were much less on display than coping capacities. The comparison with pre-Covid findings mostly showed similarities. If challenges, such as shortage of labour, already loomed before, they persisted during the crisis. Furthermore, the eminent role of resilience attributes was confirmed. In cases with high connectedness and diversity we found that these system characteristics contributed significantly to dealing with the crisis. Also the focus on coping capacities was already visible before the crisis. We are not sure yet whether the focus on short term robustness just reflects the higher visibility and urgency of shocks compared to slow processes that undermine or threaten important system functions, or whether they betray an imbalance in resilience capacities at the expense of adaptability and transformability.
Bertolozzi-Caredio et al., 2021. Stakeholder perspectives to improve risk management in European farming systems, Journal of Rural Studies, 84, 147-161.
The challenges faced by agricultural systems call for an advance in risk management (RM) assessments. This research identifies and discusses potential improvements to RM across 11 European Union (EU) farming systems (FS). The paper proposes a comprehensive, participatory approach that accounts for multi-stakeholder perspectives relying on 11 focus groups for brainstorming and gathering suggestions to improve RM. Data analysis is based on content analysis and coding of suggested improvements, and their assessment through the lenses of main challenges faced, farms’ flexibility, and dependence on subsidies. First, the results show that necessary improvements differ depending on whether they have their origin in sudden shocks or long-term pressures. Second, farm dependence on direct payments determines a stronger need to improve financial instruments, whereas farm flexibility suggests a need for more accessible and tailored tools for low-flexibility FS, and increased know-what and know-how for high-flexibility FS. Third, our findings indicate a potential for extending stakeholder involvement in RM to new or unconventional roles. Underlying specific improvements, the paper suggests and discusses three main avenues to improve RM as a whole: i) a developed learning and knowledge network; ii) new forms of collaboration; and iii) integrated financial and policy instruments.
Bertolozzi-Caredio D., Soriano B., Bardají I., Garrido A., 2021. Economic risk assessment of the quality labels and productive efficiency strategies in Spanish extensive sheep farms, Agricultural Systems, 191,103169.
The socio-economic decline of extensive sheep farming caused by its low profitability in southern European Union (EU) regions threatens marginal depopulated rural areas’ survival. In the face of new future institutional and climate challenges, there appears to be an urgent need for strategies to improve economic performance. This paper aims to evaluate the economic performance and risk of two alternative demand-oriented and productive efficiency strategies: i) protected geographical indication certification, and ii) increased ewe reproduction prolificacy. Based on regional farm records and price data and a survey of 54 local farmers, we formulated a stochastic gross margin model to simulate and analyze four strategic scenarios (baseline, quality labelling, productive efficiency, and joint strategies) under two specific stressors, namely decreased lamb prices and increased feeding costs. We found that feeding costs constitute the main risk factor, whereas price instability has less influence. Our findings highlight improvements in performance under a quality scenario, albeit with higher vulnerability to price variability with respect to the baseline scenario. In contrast, the productive efficiency scenario performs much better in terms of average gross margin and reduced vulnerability to feeding costs, albeit with a larger variation for the expected outcomes. The paper casts light on the vulnerability of the quality label under price risk, and suggests the potential for the joint implementation of both quality production and productive efficiency strategies, which could compensate for their respective weaknesses.
Manevska-Tasevska, G., Petitt, A., Larsson, S., Bimbilovski, I., Meuwissen, M. P., Feindt, P. H., & Urquhart, J., 2021 .Adaptive Governance and Resilience Capacity of Farms: The Fit Between Farmers’ Decisions and Agricultural Policies. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 9, 214.
Greater resilience is needed for farms to deal with shocks and disturbances originatingfrom economic, environmental, social and institutional challenges, with resilience achievedby adequate adaptive governance. This study focuses on the resilience capacity of farms inthe context of multi-level adaptive governance. We define adaptive governance asadjustments in decision-making processes at farm level and policy level, throughchanges in management practices and policies in response to identified challengesand the delivery of desired functions (e.g. private and public goods) to be attained.The aim of the study is twofold. First, we investigate how adaptive governance processesat farm level and policy level influence the resilience capacity of farms in terms ofrobustness, adaptability and transformability. Second, we investigate the“fit”betweenthe adaptive governance processes at farm level and policy level to enable resilience. Westudy primary egg and broiler production in Sweden taking into consideration economic,social and environmental challenges. We use semi-structured interviews with 17 farmers toexplain the adaptive processes at farm level and an analysis of policy documents from theCommon Agricultural Policy program 2014–2020, to explain the intervention actions takenby the Common Agricultural Policy. Results show that neither the farm level nor policy leveladaptive processes on their own have the capacity to fully enable farms to be robust,adaptable and transformable. While farm level adaptive processes are mainly directedtoward securing the robustness and adaptability of farms, policy level interventions aretargeted at enabling adaptability. The farm- and the policy level adaptive processes do not“fit”for attaining robustness and transformability
Coopmans, I., Dessein, J., Accatino, F., Antonioli, F., Bertolozzi-Caredio, D., Gavrilescu, C., ... & Wauters, E., 2021. Understanding farm generational renewal and its influencing factors in Europe. Journal of Rural Studies.
Understanding the complex process of generational renewal (GR) in agriculture is essential for supporting the continuation of farming. This paper demonstrates how multiple factors, simultaneously and through their mutual interactions, influence GR and related individual decision-making processes. Results originated from 155 in-depth interviews performed on 85 farms in eleven European regions, and were triangulated with the literature. Our analysis, combining inductive and deductive approaches, revealed three conceptual phases (successor identity formation, farm succession process, and farm development) and fourteen factors important to understand GR. We elaborate how these factors interact, hence exert their impact on (one of) the phases in a complex and variable way. Implications highlight potential pitfalls and opportunities for attracting people into agriculture. Although policy-makers should be aware of their limited ability to affect GR by targeting the first phase, we propose some ideas that would complement current existing measures acting on the third phase.
Spiegel, A., Slijper, T., de Mey, Y., Meuwissen, M. P.M., Poortvliet, P. M., Rommel, J., ... & Feindt, P. H., 2021. Resilience capacities as perceived by European farmers. Agricultural Systems, 193, 103224.
The ability of a farm to cope with challenges is often conceptualised as resilience. Although improving resilience of farms is a major policy goal in the European Union, the current state of resilience is often unknown. Previous resilience assessments have been based either on pre-defined indicators or on perceptions. In particular, empirical research of perceived resilience is still limited and usually restricted to one specific resilience capacity, one challenge, or one function. We investigate how European farmers perceive resilience capacities of their farms. Extending beyond previous research, we cover all three resilience capacities (robustness, adaptability, and transformability), consider a broad range of short-term shocks and long-term stresses, and include multiple functions. Furthermore, we analyse farms from diverse farming systems across Europe and investigate whether farms and farmers with similar perceived resilience capacities share characteristics.
Paas et al., 2021. Participatory assessment of critical thresholds for resilient and sustainable European farming systems. Journal of Rural Studies. Volume 88, Pages 214-226
Farming systems in Europe are experiencing multiple stresses and shocks that may push systems beyond critical thresholds after which system change is expected to occur. These critical thresholds may lie in the economic, environmental, social and institutional domain. In this paper we take a participatory approach with involvement of farming system stakeholders to assess the presence of critical thresholds in 11 European farming systems, and the potential consequence of surpassing those with regard to system sustainability and resilience. First, critical thresholds of the main challenges, key system variables and their interactions in the studied farming systems were assessed. Second, participants assessed the potential developments of the key system variables in case critical thresholds for main system challenges would be exceeded. All studied systems were perceived to be close, at or beyond at least one identified critical threshold. Stakeholders were particularly worried about economic viability and food production levels. Moreover, critical thresholds were perceived to interact across system levels (field, farm, farming system) and domains (social, economic, environmental), with low economic viability leading to lower attractiveness of the farming system, and in some farming systems making it hard to maintain natural resources and biodiversity. Overall, a decline in performance of all key system variables was expected by workshop participants in case critical thresholds would be exceeded. For instance, a decline in the attractiveness of the area and a lower maintenance of natural resources and biodiversity. Our research shows that concern for exceeding critical thresholds is justified and that thresholds need to be studied while considering system variables at field, farm and farming system level across the social, economic and environmental domains. For instance, economic variables at farm level (e.g. income) seem important to detect whether a system is approaching critical thresholds of social variables at farming system level (e.g. attractiveness of the area), while in multiple case studies there are also indications that approaching thresholds of social variables (e.g. labor availability) are indicative for approaching economic thresholds (e.g. farm income). Based on our results we also reflect on the importance of system resources for stimulating sustainability and resilience of farming systems. We therefore stress the need to include variables that reflect system resources such as knowledge levels, attractiveness of rural areas and general well-being of rural residents when monitoring and evaluating the sustainability and resilience of EU farming systems.
Paas W., San Martín C., Soriano B., van Ittersuma M.K., Meuwissen M.P.M., Reidsma P., 2021. Assessing future sustainability and resilience of farming systems with a participatory method: A case study on extensive sheep farming in Huesca, Spain. Ecological Indicators. Volume 132, 108236
Finding pathways to more sustainability and resilience of farming systems requires the avoidance of exceeding critical thresholds and the timely identification of viable alternative system configurations. To serve this purpose, the objective of this paper is to present a participatory, integrated and indicator-based methodology that leads researchers and farming system actors in six steps to a multi-dimensional understanding of sustainability and resilience of farming systems in the future. The methodology includes an assessment of current performance (Step 1), identification of critical thresholds whose exceedance can lead to large and permanent system change (Step 2), impact assessment when critical thresholds are exceeded (Step 3), identification of desired alternative systems and their expected improved performance of sustainability and resilience (Step 4), identification of strategies to realize those alternative systems (Step 5), and an assessment on the compatibility of alternative systems with the developments of exogenous factors as projected in different future scenarios (Step 6). The method is applied in 11 EU farming systems, and the application to extensive sheep production in Huesca, Spain, is presented here, as its problematic situation provides insights for other farming systems. Participants in the participatory workshop indicated that their farming system is very close to a decline or even a collapse. Approaching and exceeding critical thresholds in the social, economic and environmental domain are currently causing a vicious circle that includes low economic returns, low attractiveness of the farming system and abandonment of pasture lands. More sustainable and resilient alternative systems to counteract the current negative system dynamics were proposed by participants: a semi-intensive system primarily aimed at improving production and a high-tech extensive system primarily aimed at providing public goods. Both alternatives place a strong emphasis on the role of technology, but differ in their approach towards grazing, which is reflected in the different strategies that are foreseen to realize those alternatives. Although the high-tech extensive system seems most compatible with a future in which sustainable food production is very important, the semi-intensive system seems a less risky bet as it has on average the best compatibility with multiple future scenarios. Overall, the methodology can be regarded as relatively quick, interactive and interdisciplinary, providing ample information on critical thresholds, current system dynamics and future possibilities. As such, the method enables stakeholders to think and talk about the future of their system, paving the way for improved sustainability and resilience.
Bertolozzi-Caredio D., Garrido A., Soriano B., Bardaji I., 2021. Implications of alternative farm management patterns to promote resilience in extensive sheep farming. A Spanish case study. Journal of Rural Studies. Volume 86, Pages 633-644
The vulnerability of extensive sheep systems in marginal areas, and their capacity to deliver important socio-economic functions and ecosystem services, can be studied through the lens of resilience theory. This research aims to explore how alternative farm management patterns contribute to build resilience in the extensive sheep farming system of Huesca, northeaster Spain. The methodology is based on the content analysis of in-depth interviews to farmers. We follow a specified framework based on the definition of the resilience capacities of robustness, adaptability and transformability, and propose to assess nine case-specific attributes. Results show that sheep farms have undertaken four management patterns to develop over time, namely, extensification, intensification, re-orientation, and conservation. Patterns conservation and extensification appear to promote robustness and adaptability necessary to keep delivering characteristic functions, whereas transformability is much more evident in re-orientation and intensification patterns that re-address the farms' original functions. Matching with natural resources, traditions and perspectives, and farmers' networks are crucial resilience attributes for extensive farming. On the other hand, financial and labour resources, and on-farm diversity favour re-orientation and intensification. The paper casts light on the diverse ways through which farms build their own resilience, and highlights the importance of a balanced development of alternative trajectories for the whole farming system's resilience.
Bertolozzi-Caredio D., Soriano B., Bardaji I., Garrido A., 2022. Analysis of perceived robustness, adaptability and transformability of Spanish extensive livestock farms under alternative challenging scenarios. Agricultural Systems. Volume 202 103487
The research question underlying this paper is: which resilience capacities may help livestock farmers deal with different types of challenges? The specific research objectives are: 1) to quantify the resilience capacities of robustness, adaptability and transformability and the challenges as perceived by farmers; 2) to identify the main challenges affecting the perceived resilience capacities; and 3) to evaluate how perceived resilience capacities perform under alternative scenarios.
Herrera H., Schütz L., Paas, W., Reidsma P., Kopainskya B., 2022. Understanding resilience of farming systems: Insights from system dynamics modelling for an arable farming system in the Netherlands. Ecological Modelling. Volume 464, 109848
Farming systems in Europe are facing economic, social, environmental and institutional challenges. Highly intensive, climate-exposed, arable farming systems like the Veenkoloniën in the north of the Netherlands are particularly vulnerable to many of these challenges. Just in the past twenty years, the Veenkoloniën has lost half of its small and medium sized family farms specialised in cultivating starch potatoes. While starch potato production continues to be stable as the remaining farms are increasing the size of their operation, local stakeholders are concerned that the farming system in the Veenkoloniën is endangered. In this paper we investigate this issue by using a system dynamics simulation model to explore what the potential structures are that could threaten the long term future of starch potato production and to identify leverage points that can enhance the resilience of the system. Our analysis shows that, so far, farmers’ active engagement in a processing cooperative has been an important element to their resilience to cope with economic and environmental challenges. In practice, the cooperative has been able to act as a buffer and stabilise prices for farmers in the region by implementing strategies that increase the value of their products, open new markets and increase starch potato production.
Slijper, T., Urquhart, J., Poortvliet, M., Soriano, B., Meuwissen M.P.M., 2022. Exploring how social capital and learning are related to the resilience of Dutch arable farmers. Agricultural Systems .Volume 198, 103385
This paper explores how social capital and learning relate to farm resilience along the dimensions of robustness, adaptation, and transformation. We study the resilience of Dutch arable farmers from the Veenkoloniën and Oldambt using a combination of four methods. Qualitative data from semi-structured farmer interviews, focus groups, and expert interviews are combined with quantitative data from farmer surveys. The qualitative data are analysed using thematic coding. Non-parametric tests are used to analyse the quantitative data. Based on methodological triangulation, we mostly find convergence in our qualitative and quantitative datasets increasing the validity of our findings.