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Abstract

Interest in land mobility and its impact on the structural development and economic growth of the agricultural sector has grown considerably amid concerns about the ageing European farming population. There have been calls throughout Europe for structural and institutional deterrents obstructing the passage of farmland from the older to younger generation of farmers to overcome this phenomenon and help facilitate generational renewal in agriculture. Nonetheless, gaining access to land is widely reported to be the single largest barrier facing young people attempting to enter farming. Whilst land mobility is given homogenous importance throughout Europe, this view point paper highlights that policies and regulations relating to land differ considerably across EU Member States. There is also a surprising scarcity of literature and academic discussion on access to land in a European context, despite its crucial role in the survival, continuity and future prosperity of the farming industry and the broader sustainability of rural communities. By focussing on the key policy and structural issues hampering access to agricultural land throughout Europe, and using the Republic of Ireland’s Land Mobility Service as a good practice example of how to help facilitate the process, this paper provides a rationale for why a major European study is required to investigate the factors which influence land mobility in each of the 27 EU Member States in order to inform future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plans, particularly in relation to generational renewal objectives.
VIEWPOINT
DOI: 10.5836/ijam/2020-09-7
Mobilising Land Mobility in the
European Union: An Under-Researched
Phenomenon
SHANE FRANCIS CONWAY
1,
*, MAURA FARRELL
1
, JOHN McDONAGH
1
and ANNE KINSELLA
1
ABSTRACT
Interest in land mobility and its impact on the structural development and economic growth of the
agricultural sector has grown considerably amid concerns about the ageing European farming population.
There have been calls throughout Europe for structural and institutional deterrents obstructing the
passage of farmland from the older to younger generation of farmers to overcome this phenomenon and
help facilitate generational renewal in agriculture. Nonetheless, gaining access to land is widely reported to
be the single largest barrier facing young people attempting to enter farming. Whilst land mobility is given
homogenous importance throughout Europe, this view point paper highlights that policies and regulations
relating to land differ considerably across EU Member States. There is also a surprising scarcity of
literature and academic discussion on access to land in a European context, despite its crucial role in the
survival, continuity and future prosperity of the farming industry and the broader sustainability of rural
communities. By focussing on the key policy and structural issues hampering access to agricultural land
throughout Europe, and using the Republic of Ireland’s Land Mobility Service as a good practice example
of how to help facilitate the process, this paper provides a rationale for why a major European study is
required to investigate the factors which influence land mobility in each of the 27 EU Member States in
order to inform future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plans, particularly in relation to
generational renewal objectives.
KEYWORDS: land mobility; access to land; generational renewal; family farming; rural sustainability
1. Introduction
Agriculture is the main land use in the EU, accounting
for more than 47% of the regions total land area
(Giannakis and Bruggeman, 2015). Agricultural land is
essential for food, energy production and the delivery of
public goods. Land is also a nite resource, and therefore
of innite value. Recognising its fundamental impor-
tance to viable food production, the ongoing CAP
reform discussions have brought the debate on land
mobility (i.e. transfer of land from one farmer to ano-
ther, or from one generation to the next) in agriculture to
the forefront yet again. An infusion of new bloodinto
farming by means of efcient and effective land mobility
is considered to be critical to achieving a more innovative
and sustainable agricultural sector. Indeed, a recent
study by Zondag et al. (2016) found that the acquisition
of agricultural land (through purchase or rent) is the
most important requirement for young farmers / new
entrants who want to pursue a career in farming, while
gaining such access to land is also the largest barrier to
entering the European agricultural sector (EIP-AGRI,
2016; CEJA and DeLaval, 2017; Zagata et al., 2017).
Not only this, but a convergence of other factors,
ranging from the older generations reluctance to step
aside, land concentration and the low supply of land
for sale or rent in many regions combined with the
prevailing high price of available land, have exacerbated
the current land access issues for prospective farmers.
Overcoming these structural and institutional deter-
rents obstructing the transfer of farmland from one
generation to the next is a pressing matter in con-
temporary Europe, due to the fact that generational
renewal in agriculture is viewed as crucial for survival,
continuity and future prosperity of the European farm-
ing industry and the broader sustainability of rural
communities. However, whilst land mobility is given
consistent importance throughout Europe (CEJA and
DeLaval, 2017), policies and regulations relating to land
differ considerably across EU Member States (Zagata
et al., 2017). These differences can be explained partly
by the differing land use patterns which have emerged
historically, the prevailing physical conditions (such as
size, climatic, geographic and demographic circum-
stances) and the economic incentives available for
particular types of activity (OECD, 1996). The European
1
Rural Studies Unit, Discipline of Geography, National University of Ireland, Galway
*Corresponding author. Email: shane.conway@nuigalway.ie
Original submitted March 13 2020; accepted June 10 2020.
International Journal of Agricultural Management, Volume 9 ISSN 2047-3710
&2020 International Farm Management Association and Institute of Agricultural Management 7
Commission therefore regards land policy as a compe-
tency of each Member State of the European Union on a
national level, i.e. each country is solely responsible for
their own land sales and rental markets (ENRD, 2019).
There is also a surprising scarcity of literature and
academic discussion on access to land in a European
context, despite its centrality in the production efciency
and economic growth of the agri-food sector (Franklin
and Morgan, 2014). As such, this view point paper now
explores the policy and structural issues that are hamper-
ing access to agricultural land throughout Europe. This
is followed by a presentation of the Republic of Irelands
Land Mobility Service as a good practice match-
makingservice example linking landowners and farmers
interested in collaborating and developing sustainable
viable farm enterprises in a sensitive manner.
2. Greyingof the European Farming
Population
Interest in land mobility and its impact on the farming
economy has grown considerably amid concerns about
the ageing European farming population. Demographic
trends reveal an inversion of the age pyramid with those
aged 65 years and over constituting the fastest growing
sector of the farming community (Zagata and Suther-
land, 2015). Only 5.6% of all European farms are run by
farmers younger than 35, while more than 31% of all
farmers are older than 65 (European Commission, 2017).
To put this into context, for each farmer younger than 35
years of age, there are 5.6 farmers older than 65 years
(ibid). This greyingof the farming workforce is reported
to have major implications for government policy,
raising concerns about the economic, social and envir-
onmental sustainability and viability of an ageing
farming population. Older farmers are reported to be
less competitive in the current market place because they
are slower to adopt new innovative agricultural technol-
ogies, alongside arguments that many are unwilling
to recognize or accept their physical limitations, with
subsequent risks to their health and safety (Conway
et al., 2018). On the contrary, the younger generation
are perceived to be eager to embrace smart agriculture,
innovative farming practices and science-based research
to help guarantee a more sustainable, protable and
productive future for farming (CEJA and DeLaval,
2017). As young farmerspreparedness to innovate and
invest is also crucial for the future survival of rural
communities throughout Europe, generational renewal is
one of the European Commissions key priorities in the
upcoming Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post
2020.
3. Transitional Barriers in Farming
Family farms dominate the structure of European
agriculture in terms of their numbers and their contribu-
tion to agricultural employment. There were 10.8 million
farms in the EU in 2013, with the vast majority of these
(96.2%) classied as family farms (Eurostat, 2018). In
spite of the inherent desire to keep the family farm in the
family, research indicates however, that older farmers
often experience difculty transferring managerial con-
trol and ownership of the family farm, even to their own
children (Conway et al., 2017). This lack of correlation
between the younger generations readiness to begin their
career in farming, and their elders lack of preparedness
to step aside, has resulted in a severe lack of land
mobility throughout European Member States. Research
indicates that the low levels of land mobility currently
being experienced is impacting on the younger genera-
tions ability to embark on a true and meaningful career
path of full-time farming, and under such incidences it
could take 20 to 30 years to assume managerial control
of the farm (ibid). An absence of young people with
decision-making responsibilities on farms throughout
Europe is a major concern, particularly for an industry
facing constant change and challenge in the digital era
(EIP-AGRI, 2017).
Conway et al. (2017) warn that younger farmers
are becoming increasingly impatient as they yearn for
greater nancial independence, recognition and oppor-
tunities for leadership on the family farm. Indeed, results
from a recent EU-wide survey, carried out by CEJA
the European Council of Young Farmers in partnership
with DeLaval, with young farmers across all European
Member States on the factors they consider to be most
important for the development of an economically
sustainable farm, found that gaining access to land is
one of most signicant barriers for young people wishing
to enter or remain in the agricultural sector (CEJA and
DeLaval, 2017). Consequently, in order to deal with the
problem of land access, Zagata et al. (2017) recommend
creating new incentives such as retirement schemes, for
older farmers to pass on their farms. However, it must
also be recognised that farm succession and particularly
retirement are considered major transitional challenges
for the older farming generation, with many believing
farming to be a way of lifeand not just an occupation
or profession (Conway et al., 2017). Nevertheless, the
younger generation must be given the opportunity to
gain access to land and evolve into a more formidable
role in family farm business or otherwise they may
lose interest working in their elders shadow and decide
to leave the family business in pursuit of more fulll-
ing career opportunities elsewhere (Cush and Macken-
Walsh, 2016; Zondag, et al., 2016). Furthermore, as
White et al. (2012) have argued, any initiative to stim-
ulate generational renewal in agriculture will be wea-
kened if prospective farmers lose interest and motivation
as a result of being unable to secure access to land. Such
a detrimental manifestation requires immediate policy
attention.
4. Land Concentration
As two thirds of the 10.5 million family farms in the EU
are less than 5ha (Eurostat, 2018), securing long-term
access to additional land is imperative for those wishing
to assemble an efcient size farm holding to increase
productivity and viability. A major difculty in gaining
access to such land however is the increasingly intensive
process of land concentration taking place in European
farming. Between 2005 and 2015 the number of farms
in the EU decreased by approximately 3.8 million and
the average size of the farms increased by about 36%
(Eurostat, 2017). The result is a heightened contest
between farming and non-farming investors, and also
between both generations of the farming community,
ISSN 2047-3710 International Journal of Agricultural Management, Volume 9
8&2020 International Farm Management Association and Institute of Agricultural Management
Mobilising Land Mobility in the European Union S.F. Conway et al.
all competing in the same land market (Zagata et al.,
2017). Under such conditions it is becoming increasingly
difcult for young people to gain access to land in
order to establish a commercially viable farm, be they
the sons and daughters of farming families or young
people from a non-agricultural background (van der
Ploeg et al., 2015; Zagata et al., 2017). This is parti-
cularly problematic in Eastern Europe, which has seen
substantial foreign investment by both Western Euro-
pean farmers and businesses (ibid). This trend towards
fewer but larger farms is having a detrimental effect on
the economic viability of Europes small and medium
sized farms who do not have substantial nancial
resources behind them to purchase or secure rental of
land (Zagata et al., 2017).
5. Mobilising Land Mobility Case Study –
Focus on the Republic of Ireland
In the Republic of Ireland, it is argued that signicant
changes and modications to boost the competitiveness
and production efciency of agriculture through land
mobility and structural change are required in order to
realise ambitious growth targets such as those identied
in the Food Wise 2025 strategic document (DAFM,
2015a). Gaining access to land remains particularly
inexible in the Republic of Ireland however, despite
a number of policy initiatives designed to address land
mobility, most notably tax exemptions on income
derived from the long-term leasing of land (Geoghegan
et al., 2015). Entry to farming is predominately by
inheritance or purchasing highly inated farmland,
resulting in the level of land transfer by sale being
minimal, with less than 1% of the total land area in
Ireland being sold on the open market annually (DAFM,
2018). Furthermore, the predominant system of land
rental is short-term and frequently through informal
arrangements which provides little security for farmers.
These cultural norms have resulted in extraordinary
socio-economic challenges for young people aspiring to
embark on a career in farming (Cush and Macken-
Walsh, 2016), with profound implications not only on
the development trajectory of individual family farms
but also the production efciency and economic growth
of the Irish agri-food industry and rural society more
broadly (Conway et al., 2017). A report on Land
Mobility and Succession in Irelandclaims the lack of
land mobility currently experienced in the Republic of
Ireland is stiing agricultural growth by preventing
young enthusiasticfarmers gaining access to productive
assets (Bogue, 2013). Findings from a recent national
study by Macra na Feirme (2017), an Irish voluntary
rural youth organisation, with over 1000 young Irish
farmers entitled CAP 2020 Young Farmer Roadmap for
Generational Renewalsupport such arguments, as it
discovered that over 40% of young farmers believe that
gaining access to land is the biggest obstacle to establish
or expand their farms.
The prevalence of low levels of land mobility and the
steadfast adherence to traditional patterns of inheritance
in the Republic of Ireland led to the establishment of
an Irish Land Mobility Service in 2013, by Macra na
Feirme, with the nancial backing of FBD Trust and
industry wide support. The Land Mobility Service is a
dedicated, proactive support service for farmers and
farm families who are contemplating expansion, chan-
ging enterprise, or stepping back from farming. It pro-
vides a condential and independent match-making
service to introduce older farmers and/or landowners to
young people who want to develop their career in
farming in order to establish a sustainable and mutually
benecial business arrangement (Land Mobility Service,
2019). The main aim of the service is to facilitate access
to land through land leasing and various forms of
collaborative farming arrangements developed by Tea-
gasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority
in Ireland, or Joint Farming Ventures (JFVs) as they are
also referred to (Cush and Macken-Walsh, 2016). Colla-
borative farming arrangements, such as farm partner-
ships, share farming and contract rearing, supported
by the Land Mobility Service are actively promoted
within Irish policy discourses as ideal stepping stones
to help overcome obstacles to land access. Indeed, since
its inception (initially as a pilot and now rolling out
nationwide) the Land Mobility Service has been involved
in excess of 500 collaborative farming arrangements,
covering more than 47,000 acres (Land Mobility Service,
2019), illustrating the success of the service to date.
Today, the Service actively engages with over 200 people
who are either looking for opportunities or their options.
These people fall into three categories: landowners who
wish to step back, new entrants to Farming, and existing
farmers looking to expand (ibid).
Collaborative farming arrangements have the poten-
tial to tick all the boxesin relation to the ideal land
mobility facilitation strategy as they enable young ambi-
tious farmers become formal partners in the farm business,
whilst also allowing for the older generation to remain
actively engaged in farming and embedded in the farm-
ing community, as their continued guidance and lifelong
knowledge is considered to be invaluable to the future
development of the farm (Ingram and Kirwan, 2011;
Hennessy, 2014). Although a national Land Mobility
Service similar to the one in the Republic of Ireland has
not been explicitly established elsewhere in the European
Union to date, there are a number of analogous match-
makinginitiatives in existence throughout Europe that
link farmers to available land as well as connecting new
farmers with older ones, leading to a better return for all
parties involved. For example, Perspektive Landwirtschaft
(Perspective Agriculture) in Austria; Répertoire Départ
Installation (Directory Departure Installation) and Terre
de Liens in France; Hof sucht Bauer in Germany; Banca
delle Terre Agricole (National Bank of Agricultural
Lands) in Italy, and Landgilde and Boer zoekt Boer
(Farmer Seeks Farmer) in the Netherlands.
6. Conclusion
Given the importance of land mobility in achieving
generational renewal in agriculture, and the extent to
which low levels of mobility can hinder structural devel-
opment and growth within the farming sector, increasing
access to land for young farmers and new entrants is one
of the European Commissions key priorities in the
upcoming CAP reform. Traditional patterns of inheri-
tance, in addition to a highly competitive land mar-
ket and inated land prices however have resulted in
extraordinary socio-economic challenges for new entrants
International Journal of Agricultural Management, Volume 9 ISSN 2047-3710
&2020 International Farm Management Association and Institute of Agricultural Management 9
S.F. Conway et al. Mobilising Land Mobility in the European Union
aspiring to pursue farming as a career, as well as for young
farmers seeking additional land to develop a more viable
farming enterprise.
As every farm and farmer is unique throughout
Europe, there are no uniform or easily prescribed solu-
tions to resolving this conundrum, however the Republic
of Irelands Land Mobility Service example discussed in
this view point paper demonstrates the value of match-
makingmodels and structures in helping to increase
the availability of land for farmers and new entrants. By
providing a function for intergenerational cooperation,
whilst also allowing for greater recognition, nancial
independence and leadership opportunities for the youn-
ger generation; collaborative farming models facilitated
by such a service can also assist in alleviating concerns of
an ageing farming population and maximize production
efciency and competitiveness.
With regard to access to land across the EU as a
whole however, whilst CEJA the European Council of
Young Farmers, have actively been promoting innova-
tive match-makingmodels of collaboration between
generations to help young people commence and develop
their farming careers, the major problem in rolling out
such initiatives is the fact that policies and regulations
relating to land differ considerably across Member
States. This, combined with the scarcity of literature
andacademicdiscussiononaccesstolandinaEuro-
pean context, means that provision should be made for
a major study to investigate the factors which inuence
land mobility in each of the 27 EU Member States.
By focusing on the key policy and structural issues
affecting the process, such a study could inform an
integrated EU-wide land mobility policy aimed at
facilitating generational renewal in agriculture.
About the authors
Dr Shane Francis Conway is a Postdoctoral Researcher
in the Discipline of Geographys Rural Studies Unit at
NUI Galway.
Dr Maura Farrell is a Lecturer in Rural Geography and
Principal Investigator on the RURALIZATION Project
in the Discipline of Geography at NUI Galway.
Dr John McDonagh is a Senior Lecturer in Rural
Geography in the Discipline of Geography at NUI
Galway.
Anne Kinsella is a Senior Research Ofcer at Teagasc
Rural Economy Research Centre (REDP), where she
specialises in the area of production economics and farm
level analysis.
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International Journal of Agricultural Management, Volume 9 ISSN 2047-3710
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S.F. Conway et al. Mobilising Land Mobility in the European Union
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The article analyzes the relations between the legislation on agricultural lands in Bulgaria and the European Union (EU) and the impact of the doctrine on food sovereignty of the country (de lege lata). Attention is paid to the EU infrigement procedure against Bulgaria based on Art. 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) as regards the restrictions on the acquisition of agricultural land. The European Commission (EC) has established a case of non-compliance with EU law as regards the acquisition of agricultural land not only against Bulgaria but also against several other EU Member countries. The main argument of the EC is the violation of EU principals as regards the free movement of capital and non descrimination of the EU citizens which may harm some groups of national investors or investors from the EU. On hand, the legislative change undertaken by the Bulgarian authorities does not create conditions for discrimination between Bulgarian and foreign individuals or legal entities. On the other hand, Bulgaria has not made any attempt to establish a balance between the EU acquis on the acquisition of agricultural land and the food sovereignty of Bulgaria. At the end, this result has led to too many legal changes by which the conditions for "legal error" have to be taken into account. In order to address this issue (de lege farenda) some conclusive normative proposals are made.
... There have been calls throughout Europe for structural and institutional deterrents obstructing the movement of farmland from older to younger generations to be addressed in order to help facilitate generational renewal in agriculture (Conway et al., 2020). Joint Farming Ventures (JFVs), including arrangements such as farm partnerships, contract rearing and share farming are promoted internationally and within policy discourses as key strategies that can bring about the required infusion of 'new blood' into the industry (Cush & Macken-Walsh, 2016;Nuthall & Old, 2017). ...
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Limited uptake of financial incentives, designed to confront global trends of an ageing farming population and low levels of land mobility, reveal resistance or at best ambivalence, amongst farmers towards altering existing farm management and ownership structures in later life. To uncover facets governing the mind-set, disposition, and practices of older farmers towards succession and retirement, this study draws on Bourdieu's notion of habitus. A multi-method triangulation methodology is employed to obtain in-depth understandings of the senior generation's deeply embedded views, and the changes they perceive will occur upon their engagement in the process. Findings reveal that the attitudes and behaviour required to ‘step aside’ and retire from farming, not only ‘go against the grain’ of the older farmers’ habitus, appearing to be instinctively ‘wrong’, they also appear incompatible with what is necessary to earn recognition as a ‘good farmer’. The paper concludes by recommending that a shift in thinking towards succession and retirement must be confronted at an earlier life stage in order to inculcate a new farming habitus. In doing this, long-term resolutions through generating a regularised, accepted and well-regarded practice of intergenerational farm transfer within the farming community.
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The senior generation’s unwillingness to relinquish managerial duties and retire is a globally recognized characteristic of intergenerational family farm transfer. This is despite the array of financial incentives put in place to stimulate and entice the process. Applying Rowles’ concept of ‘insideness’ as a theoretical framework, this paper brings into focus the suitability and appropriateness of previous and existing farm transfer policy strategies, by presenting an insightful, nuanced analysis of the deeply embedded attachment older farmers have with their farms, and how such a bond can stifle the necessary hand over of the farm business to the next generation. This research employs a multi-method triangulation design, consisting of a self-administered questionnaire and an Irish adaptation of the International FARMTRANSFERS Survey in conjunction with complimentary Problem-Centred Interviews, to generate a comprehensive insight into the intricate, multi-level farmer-farm relationship in later life. The overriding themes to emerge from the content analysis of the empirical research are farmer’s inherit desire to stay rooted in place in old age and also to maintain legitimate connectedness within the farming community by remaining active and productive on the farm. Additionally, there is a strong sense of nostalgia attributed to the farm, as it is found to represent a mosaic of the farmer’s achievements as well as being a landscape of memories. The paper concludes by suggesting that a greater focus on the farmer-farm relationship has the potential to finally unite farm transfer policy efforts with the mind-set of its targeted audience, after decades of disconnect.
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We discuss the rationale for a balanced age structure and greater participation of younger farmers in Irish agriculture. However, we are circumspect with regard to prevailing policy discourses that are biased for and against farmers depending on their age and ownership status. We discuss how joint farming ventures (JFVs), involving diverse combinations of farmers, have the capacity to manoeuvre around the “land mobility” problem by instead paying recognition to human capital on farms. Taking a focus on the micro-politics of the farming household, we identify JFVs as capable of providing recognition to younger and older farmers, whether or not they own land. We argue that JFVs not only provide career pathways for younger farmers but also preserve the crucial inter-generational dynamic of family farming. Highlighting the psychodynamic processes at play in processes of farm succession, we advocate extension strategies to facilitate JFVs in achieving meaningful human capital benefits at farm-level.
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We investigate the determinants of agricultural land price in several regions in France over the period 1994-2011 using individual plots transaction data, with a particular emphasis on agricultural subsidies and nitrate zoning regulations. We found a positive but relatively small capitalisation effect of the total subsidies per hectare. We found evidence that agricultural subsidies capitalised at least to some extent. However, the magnitude of such a capitalisation depends on the region considered, on the type of subsidy considered, and on the location of the plot in a nitrate surplus zone or not. Only land set-aside premiums significantly capitalise into land price, while single farm payments have a significant positive capitalisation impact only for plots located in a nitrate surplus zone.
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Concerns about the sustainability of an ageing farming population have brought interest in so called entry-exit issues in policy circles. Policy interventions to date have offered limited scope in stimulating farm transfer in UK, however, the increase in unconventional tenures which include partnerships, share farming and contract farming (collectively called joint ventures) would appear to offer new opportunities for those wishing to enter or leave farming. In recognition of this the Fresh Start initiative in Cornwall set up a matchmaking element with the aim of identifying and facilitating potential joint ventures agreements between new entrants and older farmers. The emphasis was on setting up long-term arrangements that would enable the new entrant to ‘buy into’ an existing farm business, gradually taking over managerial control. This paper examines the processes of matching partners for the possible formation of farm joint ventures, using qualitative data derived from interviews with the participants, deliverers and stakeholders involved in the matchmaking element of this initiative. The results reveal that there is a deep rooted reluctance amongst participants in the initiative to enter formal long term joint ventures due to differing motivations, expectations, and concerns about their respective responsibilities in the working relationship and about the validity of the legal framework. Only where a relationship had already been informally established was there a commitment to formalise a joint venture agreement. Future emphasis in policy should therefore be on helping to facilitate and formalise existing partnerships, rather than trying to artificially orchestrate matches where the parties do not know each other.
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The contributions to this collection use the tools of agrarian political economy to explore the rapid growth and complex dynamics of large-scale land deals in recent years, with a special focus on the implications of big land deals for property and labour regimes, labour processes and structures of accumulation. The first part of this introductory essay examines the implications of this agrarian political economy perspective. First we explore the continuities and contrasts between historical and contemporary land grabs, before examining the core underlying debate around large- versus small-scale farming futures. Next, we unpack the diverse contexts and causes of land grabbing today, highlighting six overlapping mechanisms. The following section turns to assessing the crisis narratives that frame the justifications for land deals, and the flaws in the argument around there being excess, empty or idle land available. Next the paper turns to an examination of the impacts of land deals, and the processes of inclusion and exclusion at play, before looking at patterns of resistance and constructions of alternatives. The final section introduces the papers in the collection.
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The successive reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the enlargements of the European Union (EU) and the impacts of climate change have amplified the diversity of European agriculture. These rapid changes have resulted in the intensification of agricultural activities in some regions, while they have led to the marginalization of agriculture and its eventual abandonment in others. The objective of this paper is to investigate the factors that are behind the differential performance of agriculture across the EU-27 countries. Ward's, k-means and two-step clustering methods were used to classify European agriculture based on gross-value-added farm, land and labour productivity indicators. Significant differences were revealed between the Northern-Central counties and the continental peripheries (Mediterranean, Eastern, Northern Scandinavian). An exact logistic regression model was used to analyse the factors behind this differential performance. Agricultural sectors characterized by a young and better trained farm population are more likely to attain high economic performance. The odds to attain high economic performance are almost 9 times greater for countries with a highly trained farm population, namely, the Netherlands (72%) and Germany (69%), than for countries with poor farm training, while an ageing farm population such as in Portugal (72%) and Bulgaria (66%) is 92% less likely to be high performing. The importance of investments in agriculture was also identified. The significance of the wheat yield variable highlights the importance of both environmental conditions and technical efficiency on farm economic performance. Similarly, countries with a high share of utilized agricultural land in less favoured areas, such as in the Mediterranean, are 94% less likely to attain high economic performance. The redesign of CAP direct payments between old and new member states after 2013 combined with the impacts of agricultural trade liberalization and climate change are expected to deteriorate the position of low performing agricultural sectors further.
Research report commissioned by Macra na Feírme in partnership with the Irish Farmers Association. The Agricultural Trust and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
  • P Bogue
Bogue, P. (2013). Land Mobility and Succession in Ireland. Research report commissioned by Macra na Feírme in partnership with the Irish Farmers Association. The Agricultural Trust and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Broadmore Research.
European Young Farmers -Building a Sustainable Sector
  • Delaval Ceja
CEJA and DeLaval. (2017). European Young Farmers -Building a Sustainable Sector.