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Conflicts between Agricultural Policy and Sustainable Land Use: The Case of Northern Spain


  • Juan Ramón Murua

    () (Department of Applied Economics V, University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU, Spain)

  • Inmaculada Astorkiza

    () (Department of Applied Economics V, University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU, Spain)

  • Begoña Eguía

    () (Department of Applied Economics V, University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU, Spain)


The decline of agriculture, observable mainly in industrialized countries, shows itself not only in a gradual decrease in the economic weight of the primary sector, but also in the abandonment of land devoted to agricultural and livestock activities. The phenomenon of agricultural land abandonment is complex and, in order to explain the causes, it is necessary to consider not only the physical and productive features of the land but also the social and economic characteristics of the area. It also appears to be conditioned by production specialization, since traditional livestock-raising areas show a higher risk of abandonment. The process, which is gradual, starts with a reduction in production intensity followed by increasing marginalization and, finally, the total abandonment of land use. Focusing on a representative area on the Cantabrian Coast of northern Spain, this study tests the hypothesis that a large portion of agricultural land in livestock-oriented regions is underused. It also evaluates the viability of forestry as an alternative use for abandoned lands and the potential effects of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan Ramón Murua & Inmaculada Astorkiza & Begoña Eguía, 2013. "Conflicts between Agricultural Policy and Sustainable Land Use: The Case of Northern Spain," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 60(3), pages 397-414, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:voj:journl:v:60:y:2013:i:3:p:397-414

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Renwick, Alan W. & Jansson, Torbjorn & Verburg, Peter H. & Revoredo-Giha, Cesar & Britz, Wolfgang & Gocht, Alexander & McCracken, Davy, 2011. "Policy Reform and Agricultural Land Abandonment," 85th Annual Conference, April 18-20, 2011, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 108772, Agricultural Economics Society.
    2. Onate, J.J. & Atance, I. & Bardaji, I. & Llusia, D., 2007. "Modelling the effects of alternative CAP policies for the Spanish high-nature value cereal-steppe farming systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 247-260, May.
    3. Heinz Peter Witzke & Markus Kempen & Ignacio Perez Dominguez & Torbjörn Jansson & Paolo Sckokai & John Helming & Thomas Heckelei & Daniele Moro & Axel Tonini & Thomas Fellmann, 2009. "Regional Economic Analysis of Milk Quota Reform in the EU," JRC Working Papers JRC53116, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
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    Cited by:

    1. Xu Hengzhou Author-Email: & Liu Yuexi Author-Email:, 2016. "Policy Implications and Impact of Household Registration System on Peasants’ Willingness to Return Rural Residential Lands: Evidence from Household Survey in Rural China," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 63(1), pages 135-146, March.

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    More about this item


    Deagrarianization; Underutilization and abandonment of agricultural land; Cattle density; CAP reform;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment


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