Project

MIND STEP: Modelling Individual Decisions to Support the Europan Policies related to Agriculture (H2020)

Goal: Current state-of-the-art agricultural models are not able to deliver individual farm and local effects as they are specified at higher levels of aggregation. Making use of improved possibilities opened up by progress in the ICT area, our project MIND STEP will improve exploitation of available agricultural and biophysical data and will include the individual decision making (IDM) unit in policy models. Based on a common data framework MIND STEP will develop IDM models, including agent-based models, focussing on different topics in an integrated manner in different regional case studies. The IDM models will be estimated and calibrated using agricultural statistics and big datasets, drawing on established econometric and evolving machine learning techniques and using both traditional models of optimising behaviour and theories from behavioural economics. MIND STEP will closely cooperate with a range of stakeholders to co-create and apply the MIND STEP model toolbox to selected regional, national and EU wide policy cases. MIND STEP cooperates with other consortia under the topic to share ideas and innovations.

Coordinated by Stichting Wageningen Research (The Netherlands) the consortium includes 11 partners from 8 countries.

Further information can be found on the project's online channels
- project website: https://mind-step.eu/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/MindstepP/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/mind-step-project/
- Cordis factsheet of the project: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/223209/factsheet/en

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement Nr. 817566.

Date: 1 September 2019 - 31 August 2023

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Project log

Linmei Shang
added 3 research items
Technological change co-determines agri-environmental performance and farm structural transformation. Meaningful impact assessment of related policies requires farm-level models to be rich in technology details and environmental indicators, integrated with agent-based models capturing dynamic farm interaction. However, such integration faces considerable computational challenges affecting model development, debugging and application. Surrogate modelling using machine learning techniques may enable such integration for simulations with broad regional coverage. We develop surrogates of the farm model FarmDyn using state-of-the-art neural networks. All tested neural networks achieve a high fit but differ substantially in inference time. We develop evaluation metrics allowing practitioners to assess trade-offs among model fit, inference time and data requirements. The Multilayer Perceptron shows almost equal performance in all criteria but saves strongly on inference time compared to a Bi-directional Long Short Term Memory.
Silvia Coderoni
added a research item
Policies in the agricultural and rural sectors are of key importance in shaping their sustainable development. These policies are changing from market-based policies to policies that aim to influence farmers’ decision-making. Thus, the scientific literature supporting evidence-based policy-making must develop models that simulate individual decision-making (IDM) by farmers. This study aims to understand key policy objectives, related policy questions and benchmark scenarios relevant to the European agricultural sector to define the research agenda for a suite of IDM models. This research goal has been addressed following a five-step process that involved different research tools and heterogeneous actors, including key stakeholders. Results suggest that environmental policy objectives are the most relevant for European agriculture in the coming decades. Thus, the scenario modelling exercise should focus mainly on the agri-environmental policies’ impacts while properly considering the potential trade-offs between economic and environmental objectives.
Katalin Balázs
added an update
Read the open access research paper by colleagues from the MIND STEP project consortium on Adoption and diffusion of digital farming technologies - integrating farm-level evidence and system interaction in the Volume 190, May 2021, 103074 issue of Agricultural Systems.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
We are very pleased to inform you that the 2nd issue of the MIND STEP Project Newsletter is available
You may access and browse or download the PDF version here: https://mind-step.eu/newsletter
Here are some highlights what you can find in this issue:
What MIND STEP is all about?
MIND STEP is an EC funded 4-year Horizon 2020 research and innovation action aiming to improve exploitation of available agricultural and biophysical data and will include the individual decision making (IDM) unit in policy models.
From this issue of our newsletter you can get to know:
What are the latest developments in our project?
  • We had interviews and the 1st stakeholder workshop to find out which key policy questions and benchmark scenarios we shall focus on. In October we had our 2nd project meeting, working meetings, and we also took part at the EU Farm to Fork Conference. Learn more about how our partners work to keep focus on project implementation.
What are the latest deliverables in MIND STEP?
  • New deliverables, including reports on key policy questions for ex-ante impact assessment of EU Agricultural and Rural policies, and a report on access to a computer cluster were submitted to the EC.
Where and how are we networking?
  • Read how we cooperate with our fellow projects AGRICORE and BESTMAP funded within the same Work Programme Topic RUR-04-2018-2019 in the AGRI-MODELS CLUSTER.
  • We also cooperate with the SUPREMA H2020 project, and we have participated at its project closing conference.
What are the upcoming international events where you can meet us?
  • There are several events on our list, e. g. the VIRTUAL Annual Conference of The Agricultural Economics Society (AES), 29 and 30 March 2021, Warwick, UK or the 14th European Farming Systems Conference (IFSA – European Group) Évora, Portugal, 28 March and 1 April 2021.
Continue reading the PDF version here: https://mind-step.eu/newsletter
We hope you will enjoy delving into the latest info about our project. Thank you for reading!
We share our warmest wishes for the holiday season, and a New Year of peace, health and prosperity.
The MIND STEP project team
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
2020-12-01
Prepared by UCSC, WECR and JRC the objective of this report is to review the existing and future policies as well as some key global drivers affecting the agricultural sector in the EU in order to set the research agenda for the EU H2020 project MIND STEP.
MIND STEP is aimed at supporting the ex‐ante evaluation of future policy settings that might impact the European agricultural and rural sector using Individual Decision Making (IDM) models. The resulting research agenda is the first step of the MIND STEP conceptual model, which consists of: defining key policy questions; identifying the indicators for monitoring and measuring the impacts of policies; investigating whether current IDM models can be used to for evidence based policy analyses. In particular, this study wanted to answer the following research questions: Q1: What agricultural policy objectives are relevant and worth of investigation today?; Q2: Which benchmark scenarios should be investigated in order to capture the most relevant impacts of these policy objectives on EU agriculture and rural areas? These questions have been addressed using a set of qualitative tools. Among them, stakeholders’ engagement via interviews, the use of policy expert team and the use of a focus group (including members of the core stakeholder group and the policy expert team) played a crucial role. The MIND STEP core stakeholder group was carefully chosen to cover a broad range of interests from different groups, including both public and private sector representatives, giving particular attention to the inclusion of policy makers at a strategic level. Through a 5‐step qualitative research approach, we ranked the proposed post‐2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) objectives based on the stakeholders’ answers and the corresponding key policy questions for each post‐2020 CAP objective, as defined by the policy expert team. Finally, for each policy question we associated a list of relevant benchmark scenarios as identified by the stakeholders. A clear focus on environmental policy objectives emerged from the MIND STEP core stakeholder group views.
The results presented in this report should allow MIND STEP researchers to have a clearer idea of which policies need to be modelled and thus make them able to give timely impact assessment for evidence‐based policy making. In fact, setting the future priorities of agricultural policies is fundamental to understand what research direction IDM models should take. This report also set the stage for the remaining activities in Work Package 1, in particular for the identification of the relevant indicators for monitoring and measuring the impacts of policies (D1.2) and for the analysis of the potentials of IDM models in providing reliable simulations of the impact of these policies (D1.3).
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
2020-11-27
The second issue of our 6 monthly newsletters will be out very soon.  In the issue you will find information about what MIND STEP is, and who is participating in this project.
We will give you insights to our kick-off meeting and other events where MIND STEP was presented.
Explore what MIND STEP can offer you, where you can find us, how you can join us, and how you can have your say about the issues we are discussing. 
You will also find information about other projects, including our fellow projects AGRICORE and BESTMAP, with which we are cooperating in the AGRI-MODELS CLUSTER.
Read previous issue and subscribe to our newsletter here: https://mind-step.eu/newsletter/
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
2020-11-20
A news release of the Agrimodels Cluster was published in EurekAlert! of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and on CORIDIS Wire.
European research projects team up for a common goal - to develop novel modelling capabilities in the agricultural sector and contribute to a new architecture of agricultural policies in the European Union.
The news release, further apprises about the threats posed to food and water security, carbon storage and biodiversity by the uprising issues of land-use intensification and climate change. As such, the three EU research projects have gathered to raise awareness towards those questions and are advocating for policy makers on various levels, from European to regional, to rethink and heighten the agricultural sustainability.
The project team members of AGRICORE, BESTMAP and MIND STEP are determined to lead the collaboration to a great success, providing impactful units for the agricultural sector.
Read the news release here:
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
2020-10-22
Models of individual farm decision (IDM) like FarmDyn that are capable of reflecting detailed technology choices, investment decisions, and biophysical linkages are necessary to analyze the upcoming CAP where environmental impacts are considered to play a crucial role due to the laid-out targets of the EU-Commissions “European Green Deal” and the “Farm to Fork Strategy”.
At the same time, policy outcomes crucially depend on interactions between single farms on the land market, spatial knowledge diffusion processes, or spatial environmental effects that emerge from the decisions from a group of farms - which single farm models fail to consider. Agent-based models like AgriPoliS are well suited to model such interactions. Task 4.5 aims to exploit the potential of deep learning to develop and implement a surrogate modelling approach which will integrate FarmDyn into AgriPoliS. The integration of these two models through a surrogate model will be an important contribution to the MIND STEP model toolbox. It will enable researchers to run experiments of various policy scenarios and analyze their environmental impacts on regional level much faster without losing too much detail from the farm level. 
Even though the MIND STEP consortium meeting was only a week ago, the partners involved in Task 4.5 met in Bonn to spend a week  (12th to 16th October) intensively discussing details on the planned integration of the two models to establish a solid basis for further cooperation. As a result, UBO and IAMO came up with a concrete working plan in terms of regional adaptation, alignment of inputs and outputs of the two models, data generation, and training and integration of the surrogate model.
It was a great chance to officially introduce the new WP 4 leader Hugo Storm, taking over from Thomas Heckelei who has been appointed as the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture of UBO. Hugo Storm is an expert in the field of structural change and surrogate modelling and has been involved in MIND STEP since the writing of the proposal. 
Text: IAMO & UBO / Photo: UBO 
Photo: Uni Bonn; In the picture f.l.: Franziska Appel (IAMO), Sebastian Rasch (UBO), Hugo Storm (UBO), Thomas Heckelei (UBO) and Linmei Shang (UBO) discussing technical details of aligning FarmDyn, AgriPoliS and the surrogate model
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
2020-10-21
The environmental and climate objectives of the EU policy are crucial for the agricultural and rural sectors in the future decades. This is the unanimous advise of the H2020 MIND STEP core group of stakeholders, covering public and private sectors, including research, policy making and industry.
They select as most urgent objectives the provision of healthy food with minimal impact on the environment, a reduced reliance on subsidies, an increased efficiency in using natural resources, and pursuing climate change adaptation and resilience. Following their compelling advise - fully aligned with the F2F Strategy - the H2020 MIND STEP consortium is developing a set of relevant policy scenarios to be modelled.
MIND STEP takes as starting point the individual decision-making actors in the agricultural sector and their diverse biophysical and economic contexts. Including individual decision-making in agricultural modelling is crucial to get a more realistic estimation of the impact of policy scenarios and their expected environmental and climate objectives.
This addition will therefore advance a broad range of the agricultural models used in MIND STEP – including the ‘big ’ones used for the impact assessment of the Common Agricultural Policy-, and make it possible to account for the diversity in farm characteristics and behavior, such as the adoption of new practices.  Find below an illustration of MIND STEP research questions that are relevant for F2F:
  1. What policy scenarios and technological concepts encourage individual farmers to actively invest in greenhouse gas emission reduction and in carbon sequestration, thus perceiving farmers as part of the solution rather than the problem?
  2. Which farming practices are available and where can they be effective?
  3. What would be a farmer’s willingness to engage in such agriculture funding schemes?
  4. What would be the impact of a carbon tax on some agricultural production?
  5. How efficient would be to establish an emission trading system between farmers?
The preliminary answers to these questions will be available in September 2022.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
2020-10-06
We had our first online consortium meeting between 6 and 7 October 2020.
The objective of this meeting was to review status quo of the project, the achievements during the first year of MIND STEP and the progress, to prepare forthcoming activities in the WPs focussing on the deliverables until month 24, fine-tuning between interrelated tasks and deliverables and to review the next steps until the next project meeting, to review the  stakeholder engagement, agree on revisions, to review dissemination and exploitation, and discuss with the stakeholders advisory board.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
2020-06-25
Prepared by Thünen Institute and WR Deliverable D7.4. from WP7 provides summary of the results of a survey and discussions related to the need of installing a single computer cluster for MIND STEP. 
Analytical modelling tools based on IDM units (machine learning based data mining or agent‐based models) operate at a high spatial, but also temporal resolution. The underlying data are often georeferenced and require processing solutions that run near to the actual storage. In addition, parallel computing is required when models run at the single IDM and iterative, as example, when interacting with other models. 
All mind step partners involved in modelling have confirmed to have access to a high‐performance computer framework in their institutions, which fulfil the requirements for modelling, and which enable the modelling groups to develop and test the foreseen deliverables.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
On 24 June 2020 we had lively discussions at a 2-hour online plenary meeting with our Core Stakeholder Group on the results of stakeholder interviews regarding key policy questions and benchmark scenarios for the agricultural sector to be focussed on in our project.
In this phase of our project in a co-creation process with stakeholders and experts we are identifying key policy questions to be answered by the MIND STEP modelling system. 
The 1st stakeholder workshop was planned to be held in Brussels yet in April but due to the COVID-19 pandemic the methodology of consulting with stakeholders had to be re-designed. UCSC leading this task with colleagues from JRC and WR conducted 10 telephone interviews between 19 May and 9 June with key stakeholders and experts representing both the public and private sector including researchers, policy makers and industry representatives taking into account gender balance whenever possible. Then as a next step an online plenary meeting was organized.
The objective of the meeting was to present and discuss the results of the interviews with the stakeholders and the policy team. After a short round of introductions in the first half of the meeting the key policy questions to be answered by the MIND STEP project were presented and discussed. In the second part of the meeting the so-called bechmark scenarios to be modelled were presented and discussed, followed by a wrap-up of conclusions and next steps.
We received lots of additional inputs and a very nice list with lot of opportunities for modelling.
Many thanks to all our Core Stakeholder Group members including representatives from the European Commission DG Agriculture, DG CLIMA, OECD, IEEP, Rabobank, Genillard & Co. GmbH, ETH Zurich, Universidad Polytechnica Madrid, Deutscher Bauernverband, Provincie Flevoland for their valuable contributions.
The second stakeholder workshop will focus on selecting indicators early in 2021.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
2020-05-18
We are very pleased to inform you that we have just released the 1st issue of the MINSTEP Project Newsletter.
Here are some highlights what you can find in this issue...
What MIND STEP is all about?
MIND STEP is an EC funded 4-year Horizon 2020 research and innovation action aiming to improve exploitation of available agricultural and biophysical data and will include the individual decision making (IDM) unit in policy models.
From this issue of our newsletter you can get to know:
What are the latest developments in our project?
  • The generic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic also affects MIND STEP. Learn more about how our partners work to keep focus on project implementation.
What are the latest deliverables in MIND STEP?
  • The first deliverables, including reports on data storage and data processing capacities, on communication and dissemination, and on the MIND STEP Platform were submitted to the EC.
Where and how are we networking?
  • Read more how we cooperate with our fellow projects AGRICORE and BESTMAP funded within the same Work Programme Topic RUR-04-2018-2019 and have established the AGRI-MODELS CLUSTER.
  • We also cooperate with the SUPREMA H2020 project.
What are the upcoming international events where you can meet us?
  • There are several events on our list, e.g. the 9th AIEAA Conference or the XVI Congress of the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE).
Read and sign to our 6-monthly newsletters here:
We hope you will enjoy delving into the latest info about our project. Thank you for reading!
The MIND STEP project team
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
2020-04-30
Without a doubt, the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on economies worldwide is devastating. Hardly any sector is not affected and the implementation of many research projects are also impaired. MIND STEP is no exception. 
Since the launch of the project in September 2019 we started defining a conceptual framework for the analysis of policies and global trends addressing the EU farming sector, for measuring their impact and for linking them to the corresponding modelling issues.  The stakeholder engagement process was initiated: a core stakeholder group was created with representatives from the scientific community, policy and farmers organisations. This group will be consulted in stakeholder workshops concerning the developments in the project. The 1st workshop was supposed to deal with the identification of key policy questions that shall be answered by the MIND STEP modelling system. It was planned for April in Brussels, had to be first rescheduled and due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, colleagues are now preparing individual interviews with the stakeholders. Beyond that, data requirements of the modelling teams were surveyed and a request for FADN data was put forward centrally. Due to the COVID-19 situation, however, some tasks concerning data acquisition are delayed as statistical offices are closed or understaffed.
Other ongoing activities in MIND STEP include a literature review on existing IDM models, internal discussions of a template model, and the preparation of a paper comparing farming system models and their modularity to contribute to protocol development.  Regarding the development of models focusing on interactions between farmers and along agents of the supply chain, potential interfaces between the models FarmDyn and AgriPoliS are investigated to conceptualize a surrogate model. Further steps include the setup of the infrastructure to generate FarmDyn data and to develop the appropriate Machine Learning environment.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
Prepared by GEO Deliverable D8.2. from WP8 provides the concept of the MIND STEP Platform and guidance for using it. 
The purpose of the MIND STEP Platform is  •    to support communications, knowledge exchange and networking within and amongst members of the Core Stakeholder Group and the research teams during the project,  •    to serve as an additional on-line facility not to substitute but to complement - over space and time - the ongoing face-to-face discussions at stakeholder workshops. 
The MIND STEP Platform is implemented integrated into the project website.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
Assessing risk management  is among the many topics that are dealth with during the model developments (e.g. climate change, crop management choices).
The main objective of the MIND STEP project is to design, implement and apply the MIND STEP model toolbox: an overarching model structure and a modular and customisable suit of individual decision models (IDM) with a clear focus on the behaviour of the individual farmer.
There is a need to improve the capacity to model CAP risk management policies by developing an IDM model which captures the acceptance and risk-reducing impacts of different risk management instruments (RMI). This work will be based on a large data set combining new survey data with existing data.
In the picture: On February 12 the UCSC team ran the first pilot for data collection and was testing the protocol of the experiment with some farmers to evaluate farmers' risk preferences and their propensity to insurance adoption. 
The output of this exercise will feed into a farm level simulation model to analyse the acceptance and risk-reducing impacts of different RMI. The model allows to analyse the propensity to adopt RMI for a range of behavioural theories and farm and farmers characteristics (e.g. household; off-farm income; wealth; personal traits), and to analyse the impact of RMI that reduce yield, price, and/or income volatility (e.g. diversification, (index) insurance, plant protection, financial instruments, mutual funds for income stabilization).
Text: GEO / Photo: UCSC
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
MIND STEP Project participated at the 3rd Stakeholder Workshop organized by the SUPREMA project on 11 February in Brussels.
The interactive workshop was dedicated to the “Strategic prospects” towards the identification of the needs in the future model-based policy analysis of European Agriculture. This event was also an opportunity for the AGRIMODEL clustering project coordinators (from left to right: Hans Van Meijl (MINDSTEP), Guy Ziv (BESTMAP), Carlos Leyva Guerrero (AGRICORE) and the host Floor Browser (SUPREMA) to meet and exchange best practices towards a common strategy in agricultural policy modeling.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
Prepared by GEO Deliverable D8.1. from WP8 with inputs from all project partners sets out the Communication, Dissemination and Impact Strategy and Plan of the project. This document also contains the documentation for MS13 Stakeholder Engagement Plan and MS14 Project website.
The Communication, Dissemination and Impact Strategy and Plan (CDISP) is a “living” document, which will be updated a number of times with inputs from all partners. In Task 8.3 this deliverable establishes the individual partner responsibilities, timelines, guidelines and suggestions for project communication and result dissemination, under continuous monitoring of the WP8 T8.6 task leader GEO. It also gives guidance and plan for stakeholder engagement. This document describes the activities to be performed, the means and methods to be used in order to •    maximise the visibility of the project and its results, by providing targeted information to multiple audiences (including the media and the public) in a strategic and effective manner, •    engage target groups and key actors in a two-way dialogue across project activities, •    facilitate outreach and engagement of key actors, and potential users of, and contributors to the MIND STEP platform, •    disseminate project outcomes to stakeholders, key actors and end-users, •    maximise the potential for exploitation of project results and assist coordinating preparations for post-project exploitation (Task 8.2).
This document analyses the dissemination target audiences and match them with the most appropriate channels, key messages for communication, and external partners with whom to cooperate on co-dissemination whenever relevant. The MIND STEP Dissemination, Communication and Impact Strategy sets out: i) the main aims and objectives; ii) target audiences and user groups; iii) content and context; iv) means/mechanisms; v) success factors. It aims at integrating awareness-raising, direct participation and skills development for the needs of each audience as appropriate, and the establishment of a process to create mechanisms that engage actors over the short (during project) and longer (post-project) term.
The Strategy and Plan defines the approaches of communications by the project team to create impact through suitable methods of engagement, and appropriate and timely information. The overall strategy for communication, dissemination and impact is: 1. To increase awareness of multiple benefits of novel MIND STEP policy analysing approaches amongst regulators, policy makers and programme operators, through co-learning, co-development and complementation; 2. To motivate key stakeholders and decision-makers at different levels in countries of case studies to support adoption of novel MIND STEP policy analysing approaches through different project communication means (e.g. practice abstracts, policy factsheets, knowledge exchange through the MIND-STEP Platform policy-science interface, F2F events such as workshops, demonstrations); 3. To improve evidence-based policy making and delivery through increased uptake of the MIND STEP model toolbox. All project partners are involved in dissemination and exploitation in order to foster awareness and transfer results for impact, not only within their own countries but in the whole territory of the EU, as much as possible.
The Plan also includes a distinct and original Visual Identity to convey a familiar and consistent project image for all communication with external audiences. This is the basis for harmonised project templates for use by partners in all their internal and external project communication (presentations, reports and documents, publications, leaflets, etc.), ensuring a consistent, professional outreach towards the targeted audience during the implementation of dissemination activities.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
The Agrimodels Cluster brings together three H2020 research projects: AGRICORE, BESTMAP and MIND STEP which operate in countries across Europe  to increase modelling capabilities in the agriculture sector.
In the framework of the RUR-04-2018 published by the European Commission as part of the H2020 programme, three projects (AGRICORE - Grant agreement ID: 816078, BESTMAP - Grant agreement ID: 817501, MIND STEP - Grant agreement ID: 817566) received funding to address the challenges posed in this topic. As part of the Grant Agreement signed with the EC, at least for some of these projects, the consortia participating them agreed on forming a cluster with the other projects funded within the same topic. As a result, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the AGRIMODELS cluster and detailing the coordination activities between the projects has been developed. Coordinated activities are among others the setup and configuration of the AGRIMODELS CLUSTER, development of a web page and regular meetings between coordinators and communication and dissemination experts to identify synergies e.g. regarding the access to agriculture (or related) data. The projects agreed also in collaborating with the ongoing SUPREMA CSA. 
Visit the AGRIMODELS CLUSTER website under https://agrimodels-cluster.eu/.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
Prepared by the Thünen Institute Deliverable D7.3. from WP7 summarizes the partner reports on storage and processing requirements for each economic model and/or for each data processing foreseen in the project. 
Almost all models need high capacities of data storage, memory as much as possible and multi-processing units with a high number of cores. Most partners use the operating system Windows and the main programming and statistical software is R, SAS and GAMS.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
ENRD Workshop: ‘Agriculture and environment: speaking the same language within the CAP Strategic Plans’, 6 November 2019, Brussels, Belgium. 
MIND STEP was there to contribute to the discussions on how to design effective interventions to deliver environmental objectives in the future CAP SPs.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
11 partners from 7 European countries came together in The Hague on 2-3 October 2019 to mark the start of the four-year research project “MIND STEP : Modelling Individual Decisions to Support the European Policies Related to Agriculture”.
The MIND STEP project is funded through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research programme. The kick-off was hosted by the Project Coordinator, Stichting Wageningen Research.
Attendees included representatives of all MIND STEP partners and the project officers at the European Commission.
The MIND STEP partners are:
  • WR: STICHTING WAGENINGEN RESEARCH (NL)
  • UBO: RHEINISCHE FRIEDRICH-WILHELMSUNIVERSITAT BONN (DE)
  • IASA: INTERNATIONALES INSTITUT FUER ANGEWANDTE SYSTEMANALYSE (AT)
  • IAMO: LEIBNIZ-INSTITUT FUER AGRARENTWICKLUNG IN TRANSFORMATIONSOEKONOMIEN (DE)
  • THUENEN: JOHANN HEINRICH VON THUENEN-INSTITUT, BUNDESFORSCHUNGSINSTITUT FUER LAENDLICHE RAEUME, WALD UND FISCHEREI (DE)
  • UCS: UNIVERSITA CATTOLICA DEL SACRO CUORE (IT)
  • WU: WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY (NL)
  • INRA: INSTITUT NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE (FR)
  • NIBIO: NORSK INSTITUTT FOR BIOOKONOMI (NO)
  • JRC: JOINT RESEARCH CENTREEUROPEAN COMMISSION JRC (BE)
  • GEO: GEONARDO ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGIES (HU)
Through active engagement with a wide range of stakeholders MIND STEP will improve exploitation of available agricultural and biophysical data and will support public decision making in agricultural, rural, environmental and climate policies taking into account the behaviour of individual decision-making units in agriculture and the rural society. The fruitful discussions at the kick-off meeting benefitted from the multidisciplinary nature of the MIND STEP team. Partners took this opportunity to share their experience and knowledge of the different themes to be tackled by the project. Decisions were made by the group regarding the various phases of the project. The kick-off meeting successfully provided all partners with general guidance for undertaking the project, with a particular focus on the first part of the research.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
MIND STEP was introduced at the meeting organised by EC DG Agri on 26 September 2019 in Brussels.
Society assigns an increasing number of objectives to the policies influencing the agricultural sector and rural areas that it expects to see fulfilled. Therefore, justifications for policies extend well beyond mere food production. Evidence-based policymaking implies the development and maintenance of appropriate instruments for use in the design of these policies and for the monitoring of their effects. Given the focus on local effects of global events and EU policies, new approaches should take into account the individual decision making unit (e.g. agent-based or machine learning-based approaches). The models used by the EC need to be improved for future impact assessments to include such aspects as the environmental and climatic impacts of farming, delivery of ecosystem services, structural change and the integration of agriculture in rural society. There are also opportunities to better link models with growing number of geo-referenced datasets, European level surveys (including Integrated Farm Statistics and FADN), and the Copernicus programme. The SC2 RUR-04-2018 Horizon 2020 call funded three projects: AGRICORE, BESTMAP and MIND STEP are to explore these challenges between 2019-2023.  The three new projects were introduced to EC officers from AGRI, JRC, ENV, CLIMA, GROW, other DGs and REA.  The agricultural and rural policy modelling capacity in the EC was presented and discuss the EC policy questions, modelling needs and potential synergies between the projects and the EC were discussed.
 
Katalin Balázs
added an update
MIND STEP was presented at the 172nd EAAE seminar in Brussels. Read the paper here: https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/289837/
The theme of the seminar is the policy and research implications of these heightened environmental and climate ambitions.
The Commission department for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) are supporting the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE) in the organisation of the 172nd EAAE seminar.
 
Katalin Balázs
added a project goal
Current state-of-the-art agricultural models are not able to deliver individual farm and local effects as they are specified at higher levels of aggregation. Making use of improved possibilities opened up by progress in the ICT area, our project MIND STEP will improve exploitation of available agricultural and biophysical data and will include the individual decision making (IDM) unit in policy models. Based on a common data framework MIND STEP will develop IDM models, including agent-based models, focussing on different topics in an integrated manner in different regional case studies. The IDM models will be estimated and calibrated using agricultural statistics and big datasets, drawing on established econometric and evolving machine learning techniques and using both traditional models of optimising behaviour and theories from behavioural economics. MIND STEP will closely cooperate with a range of stakeholders to co-create and apply the MIND STEP model toolbox to selected regional, national and EU wide policy cases. MIND STEP cooperates with other consortia under the topic to share ideas and innovations.
Coordinated by Stichting Wageningen Research (The Netherlands) the consortium includes 11 partners from 8 countries.
Further information can be found on the project's online channels
- project website: https://mind-step.eu/
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement Nr. 817566.