Assessing the Rise of Organic Farming in the European Union: Environmental and Socio-economic Consequences
AbstractAlthough organic farming is considered the poster child of rural development in Europe, there is little empirical evidence assessing its success in achieving the ambitious environmental and socio-economic objectives that it is purported to assist. This paper presents empirical evidence from the growth of organic farming in Europe over the past two decades that questions the highly optimistic claims of policy makers. Although policies in support of organic impact have had an overall positive environmental impact, their social impact is ambiguous, as organic farming appears to have grown more in areas with larger average farm sizes. Additionally, contrary to what is often assumed, organic farms in Europe display larger average sizes and lower rates of labor intensity than their conventional counterparts, casting doubts on the efficacy of organic farms to allow family farmers to remain in the countryside as high-value producers. I assert that this development should be viewed as evidence of the "conventionalization" of organic farming, and suggest that policy makers take into account the transformations of the structures of production, which benefit from the support for organic farming. Treating the experience of organic farmers in the EU as a lesson for schemes paying for environmental services, I suggest that the success of organic farming should be evaluated by the numbers of participating farmers, rather than by area covered, as has been the predominant approach so far. Finally, I assert that strong agricultural cooperatives are necessary to secure a long-lasting passage of small farmers to organic methods of production. JEL Categories: Q1, Q58, O52
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics in its series UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers with number 2012-01.
Date of creation: Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Organic Farming; European Union; Environment;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture
- Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
- O52 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AGR-2012-03-14 (Agricultural Economics)
- NEP-ALL-2012-03-14 (All new papers)
- NEP-ENV-2012-03-14 (Environmental Economics)
- NEP-EUR-2012-03-14 (Microeconomic European Issues)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Torras, Mariano & Boyce, James K., 1998. "Income, inequality, and pollution: a reassessment of the environmental Kuznets Curve," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 147-160, May.
- Dinda, Soumyananda, 2004. "Environmental Kuznets Curve Hypothesis: A Survey," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 431-455, August.
- Stolze, Matthias & Lampkin, Nicolas, 2009. "Policy for organic farming: Rationale and concepts," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 237-244, June.
- Feder, Gershon & O'Mara, Gerald T, 1981. "Farm Size and the Diffusion of Green Revolution Technology," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 59-76, October.
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