Finance, institutions and the governance of European agriculture - implications for sustainable farming practices and food security


Egon Noe, University of Southern Denmark, 

Martin Hvarregaard Thorsøe, Arhus University, Denmark

Tjitske Anna Zwart, KU Leuven, Belgium

Piotr Nowak,  Jagiellonian University, Poland

Dr José Muñoz-Rojas Morenés, University of Evora, Portugal

Damian Maye, University of Gloucestershire, UK

Camilla Eriksson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden

Juha Peltomaa, Finnish Environment Institute, Finland

Katrina Rønningen, Centre for Rural Research, Norway



The need for sustainable transformations in agriculture has been recognized for many years in the EU and at national policy levels across European countries; however, there are a number of challenges that are in part economic, social and environmental. For instance, in many parts of Europe farmers currently experience financial difficulties, rural areas are depopulated, working conditions are poor and there is a low level of generational succession. In addition, food security is reappearing on the policy agenda. In some countries as an issue of national security, e.g. in Baltic and Nordic countries where the increasingly tense security situation around the Baltic Sea coupled with decreasing food self-sufficiency rates has initiated new civil defence policies. In other countries as an issue of household level food security as e.g. households in Greece have suffered food shortages as a result of recent economic recession. In addition, a number of environmental problems such as nutrient leaching, biodiversity loss and soil compaction need attention.

These are all complex interconnected challenges that to date have not been adequately addressed in a sufficiently integrated way.  At a central level the EU tries to manage these challenges by developing common frameworks that apply to all member states, which are then included within national policies. However, each region has its own local characteristics that produce different local interpretations of the regulation. Thus an important question arises in terms of how farmers and institutions react to policy changes in the many different regulatory contexts that prevail across Europe, including non-EU countries?  How are markets and regulations supporting or hampering new arrangements that seek to reconfigure agri-food systems and rural society and space? How are concerns of national or local food security tackled? How are different cultural interpretations of ‘a sustainable rural' working in practice in terms of initiating (or not) sustainable transformations?

The aim of this session is to explore the rationality that influence decision making concerning sustainable farming practices and food security. We invite a range of theoretical and empirical papers that consider, for example, the following questions: what are the visions, perceptions and conditions which are important for decision-makers concerning current and future farming practices? How are changes in regulatory conditions and institutions interpreted, grounded and what are their impacts in different local contexts? What are the regulatory and market drivers at European and local levels and how are they influencing the transition to sustainable farming practices?


The sessions will be organized as 45 minute speed talk sessions with up to 4 short presentations, where an idea or a central research finding is presented in 5 minutes. The remaining session is dedicated to plenary discussion and/or small group discussions between the presenters and the other session participants.