WG3 – Economic impact at the farm level
Multifunctional agriculture is seen today as a new model of farming and of agricultural business, able to capture the changes in contemporary society and meet the needs and the demand of consumers, citizens and taxpayers. Farmers search for new sources of income, in order to diversify their production and lower the risk factors, often shifting their inputs towards non-agricultural goods and services. At the same time, they may adopt strategies to remunerate non-productive functions, also through access to public policies that are more and more oriented to support social and environmental functions.
The aim of this working group is to investigate the ways farms adapt to changes in the direction of multifunctionality, diversifying their activities and income sources towards the production of new goods and services and also of public goods.
Multifunctional agriculture has been traditionally associated to the characteristics of small family-run farms. However, evidence shows that also large and business-oriented farms are reorienting their production, introducing differentiated products and diversified activities and giving a commercial footprint to their ability to produce public goods. Even more, it is often the entrepreneurial skills, which are connected to the age of farmers, their education level and their connection to the markets, that makes the difference in the shifting to a multifunctional business.
The working group will focus especially on the business aspects of multifunctionality, such as product differentiation (quality products, organic farming), and diversification (agri-tourism, social farming, recreational activities), by looking at the economic and social implications related to the choice of farmers of “going multifunctional”.
The main questions which will be addressed in this working group are as follows:
• How can multifunctional agriculture contribute to societal challenges?
• What is the contribution of multifunctional agriculture to farm family income?
• Does multifunctional agriculture strengthen or weaken the economic resilience of the farm enterprise?
• Does multifunctional agriculture increase social responsibility of farmers as well as their reputation and visibility within local communities?
• What are the economic relations and interdependencies between primary production and other on-farm activities? Are they in competition or do they support each other in the overall farm business and income production?
• What are the effects of production cost and farm business of the choice of “going multifunctional”?
• To what extent multifunctional agriculture may change the identity and the entrepreneurial skills of farmers?
• Which is the role of public support in favouring the development of multifunctional agriculture?
By addressing these questions the working group aims at exploring under what circumstances (internal and external factors) multifunctional agriculture may become a driver of social change and economic growth at the farm level. Proposals based on a micro, meso and macro founded analysis are welcome, but also papers that offer a comparative analysis of case studies, in different businesses or in different areas of the same country or different countries.
Roberto Henke, Inea – Istituto Nazionale di Economia Agraria, Italy
Francesco Vanni, Inea – Istituto Nazionale di Economia Agraria, Italy