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MEA-SCOPE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 501516
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Germany

A new view on rural agriculture

Assessing agriculture in a more comprehensive, holistic way can lead to the development of more robust policies to support rural areas and the environment.
A new view on rural agriculture
The health of the European countryside is pivotal for the agricultural sector, but also goes beyond providing crops and food. Rural areas, in addition, represent habitats for a wide variety of fauna and flora, as well as being important for tourism, leisure, education and ecosystem balance. This is why the EU's Model of European Agriculture (MEA) is characterised by the concept of multifunctionality, boasting many different economic outputs and considerations.

The EU-funded project 'Micro-economic instruments for impact assessment of multifunctional agriculture to implement the Model of European Agriculture' (MEA-SCOPE) aimed to encourage the sustainability of agricultural land by considering all its aspects. It developed tools to assess the impact of current and future policy options in Europe's different regions after factoring in this multifunctionality.

Broad EU policies have not always considered the heterogeneity of rural areas, including their vast geo-physical and socioeconomic diversity. The project therefore investigated farm performance in seven regions to demonstrate the importance of heterogeneity. The study revealed that farm numbers decreased over time while farm size increased, among many other valuable findings that could shape policymaking. The impact that farms have on grasslands and the environment was also studied, as was the impact of farms on arable land.

Many different scenarios were considered for the future, including liberalisation scenarios and decoupling scenarios (i.e. modes of payment to farmers for crops). Lastly, the project revealed expectations for economic setbacks in some rural areas such as in Germany, as well as an increase in farm income in other areas such as in Slovakia.

By investigating agriculture, farming and rural development in a more holistic manner that considers heterogeneity and multifunctionality, the project can help improve policymaking. This is likely to have a positive effect on rural regions and their environment.

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