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Accounting for farm-level decision making in policy design and analysis – the MIND STEP modelling toolbox

The Horizon 2020 project MIND STEP aims to 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.

Climate Change and Environment
Society
Food and Natural Resources

Policies related to agriculture are supposed to address an increasing number of objectives as demanded by society. As a result, agricultural policies, like the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), increase their scope to incorporate for example objectives of the Paris climate agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In line with this and the Farm to Fork strategy, the European Commission (EC) has formulated the following central challenges for the future CAP: promotion of research and innovation in agricultural and food production, the fostering of a smart and resilient agricultural sector, the enhancing of environmental care and climate action, the strengthening of the socio-economic conditions of rural areas, while addressing the citizens’ concerns in the areas of health, nutrition, food waste and animal welfare. The proposals of the EC suggest revising CAP policy tools moving further into the direction of farm specific measures, and a stronger orientation towards objectives. Greater subsidiarity should change the ‘one size fits all’ approach in the current CAP. To facilitate this change, Member States are given more flexibility to develop their own CAP strategic plans, which should define measurable objectives and means to achieve them. The wider scope and the particular focus on measures targeting individual farmers ask for a new generation of impact assessment tools. These new tools should be bottom-up with focus on the individual decision makers in the agricultural supply chain. The MIND STEP modelling toolbox contributes to this with a focus on farm level decision making taking into account differences in farmers’ behaviour and farm characteristics. In impact evaluations, much more attention has to be paid to the way the CAP is regionally implemented. Regional authorities need tools, and the EU needs to take local and regional conditions and policies into account in evaluating its policies. The leading objective of MIND STEP is therefore to 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. Linking new MIND STEP models of Individual Decision Making and currently applied models used at the European Commission will improve the consistency and broaden the scope of the policy analyses. The involvement of experts, policy makers, and interest groups is key for the development and assessment of policy scenarios. To engage in constant dialogue with stakeholders, the 2nd MIND STEP stakeholder workshop took place in April 2021. It focused on the relevance of the MIND STEP indicator framework to estimate the impacts of the selected policy scenarios and the ability of the MIND STEP toolbox to model the scenarios. Together with partners from the AGRI MODELS CLUSTER, researchers from MIND STEP will present recent findings and challenges in a jointly organized session “Use of Individual Decision Making Models to Support Policies” at the XVI EAAE Virtual Congress on the 20nd-23rd of July 2021. MIND STEP receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement no. 817566.

Keywords

Commong Agricultural Policy, environmental policy, climate change, rural society, structural change, Agent Based Modelling, farm economics, behavioural economics

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