Deliverable D6.1. Legislation and political discourse about ecological farming

New deliverable available: D6.1. Legislation and political discourse about ecological farming

A new LIFT project’s deliverable in the form of a public report is available for download: LIFT D6.1 Legislation and political discourse about ecological farming

The report has been prepared by the partners from: SLU (Sweden), ECOZEPT (Germany), MTA KRTK (Hungary), IAE-AR (Romania), INRA (France), IRWiR PAN (Poland).

The deliverable D6.1 of the LIFT project explores what types of discourses are used in six European Union (EU) member states’ Rural Development Programs (RDP) and other agricultural policy documents and how they incorporate ecological approaches across three Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) periods. This multiple case study highlights similarities and differences in the dominant discourses as emerging from national policy documents in the following selected EU member states: France, Germany (Bavaria), Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden. It also demonstrates how discourse analysis can be used to gain understanding about the dominant discourses expressed in these documents in relation to how ecological approaches are defined, the policy rationale for encouraging ecological approaches and the expected consequences of doing so.

Conceptually, we focused on two types of discourses identified from the literature: 1) the three CAP discourses: i) neomercantilism; ii) neoliberalism and iii) multifunctionality, and 2) the five socio-political discourses of Rural Development (RD): iv) agri-ruralist, v) hedonist, vi) utilitarian, vii) nature conservation and viii) community sustainability. These types of discourses were together integrated in a model, where each policy discourse depicts agriculture as accomplishing a specific function. The theoretical framework is grounded within a political economy perspective.

This means that policy develops because of confrontation between different concerned agents with different interest, pushing for different objectives. The state acts as an intermediary between these agents and aims at ensuring consensus and maintenance of agreement. Policy documents are therefore often the result of competing discourses and contradicting policy objectives.

Across EU member states, the results show that ecological approaches are mainly depicted with the multifunctionality discourse with two dominating sub-discourses of nature conservation and agri-ruralism. Nevertheless, we observe an increase in the use of the neomercantilist discourse in the last CAP period. This parallels what the previous literature finds in Commissioners’ speeches: a reappearance of the traditional neomercantilist discourse in the CAP agenda 2014-2020. Farming systems (with farming practices) related to agroecology, biodiversity-based and organic farming are among the most commonly mentioned farming systems.