Rural depopulation, low and declining farm incomes, combined with the lack of off-farm employment opportunities are major problems for many peripheral regions in Europe. In addition, there is increasing concern for proper management of the environment. The impending reform of the CAP and the impact of GATT will add further pressure in speeding up adjustment in rural areas. The results of these adjustments in agriculture, since in many areas it is the core business, will seriously alter current conditions in our rural areas.
The project will assess the influence of ecological, economic, socio-cultural and political constraints on changing farm economies in less developed areas of Greece, Northern ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Rural depopulation, low and declining farm incomes, combined with lack of alternative employment, are major problems for many peripheral regions in Europe. In addition, there is increasing concern for proper management of the environment. This work assesses the influence of ecological, economic, sociocultural and political constraints on changing farm economies in less developed areas of Greece, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The work examines how the farming sector has adjusted to pressures arising from the above influences and identifies opportunities for supporting incomes for farm families. The field work for ethnographic studies of land users' cultural context have been made in one area in each country. Elite interviews have been made to assess administrative and political constraints on land user decision making. A questionnaire has been developed, together with a sampling framework, for a survey of sociocultural and economic aspects of land users' decisions with respect to their use of land and labour.
The study will make direct comparison between Mediterranean and Northern political economies at a time when issues of economic and social cohesion are demanding urgent attention within the Community. The project will focus specifically on how the farming sector has adjusted to pressures arising from the above influences. An effort will also be made to identify opportunities and alternatives which will assist in supporting household incomes for farm families. A model with which to predict the future competitiveness of farms over the next generation, in the context of the wider rural economy of peripheral areas will be presented.
The project will provide a better understanding of the environment in which farm economies operate, and also of the incentives and policies necessary to promote the development of this sector.
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BT22 1QD Portaferry
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