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Natural Resource Governance around the World

A folder on LAND POLICIES IN EUROPE, as a contribution to the debate on regulatory tools on the size of farms in the world. (Ed. # 32)

Among the results of the World Forum on Access to Land and Natural Resources (WFAT 2016), formulated in the summary note prepared during the meeting, participants called for « a halt to land and resource concentration and grabbing… » (proposal No.1), « the restitution, as soon as possible, of lands that have been unfairly stolen from displaced populations…"(proposal No.2), « to eliminate inequalities in access by redistributing land and natural resources (…) by reviving redistributive “policies, particularly agrarian reform policies »(proposal No.3), to recognize the essential role of women, … and to eliminate all inequalities in access to land and natural resources, that affect women in particular »(proposal No.4).

They also called, among other recommendations, for the implementation of intervention mechanisms on land that could be applied much more easily than conventional land reforms, which however can be extremely effective. They aim at:

  • « to making it easier for youth to access land and natural resources, and to make a proper living from these last; the promotion of intergenerational dialogue that reconciles transmission of local knowledge with youth autonomy » (Proposal # 5)

  • developping ”regulatory tools to prevent land concentration: fiscal policies, mechanisms that regulate land purchase and sale, leasing, and investment” (proposal # 6)

These two proposals represent a real advance over previous forum´s and conference´s conclusions on access to land and agrarian reform. The aim of this newsletter is to contribute to their development starting from the European continent.

Most European countries have based their economic development on small scale agricultural production, peasant and familial. We tend to forget this fact today, by wrongly assuming that the large mechanized production using hired labor and advanced technology provides a solution to optimize production.

AGTER has already devoted a specific folder on « Agricultural land policies of France » ( ). But France was not the first nor the only country that has implemented public policies to allow the expression of small-scale production´s potential, and to avoid the constitution or reconstitution of large farms. These policies seeking to regulate the size of farms have not been the same across the different countries studied. They were carried out at different points in history, and various economic and political contexts. Thus, similar measures have had very different results sometimes. Because agrarian stories were very different in Europe, it is not possible to define in absolute terms the « best practices ». That is why the historical understanding of national land tenure systems is essential.

This is the topic of the new folder in our online knowledge base, entitled « Land and agrarian history Policies in Europe » (available at thesaur … ). This under construction folder is far from giving a complete picture of the various changes that affected Europe. It will be completed gradually, with the support of our members and the financial contributions we have been able to obtain in order to continue our work.

The information on the regulation on the size of farms are hard to find in several countries and there are few comparative studies. In a context where the maintenance of small-scale agriculture is challenged in many parts of the world, apprehending these different experiences is absolutely necessary. Therefore, we decided to make this work public so that it can be used by governments, elected representatives and civil society, and especially farmers’ organizations to develop their own proposals.

The folder includes various studies and work carried out by/or in partnership with AGTER on different agricultural land policies and the agrarian history of some selected European countries.

  • Five studies were conducted by Terres d’Europe SCAFR, the international studies office of the National Federation of SAFER (France) and AGTER with the support of the Chair of compared agriculture of AgroParisTech. These five studies are on England, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland and were conducted on request of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries (France), today called Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry, whom has allowed us to publish them.

  • A similar study was conducted by AGTER in Romania, in collaboration with the Agency for Services and Payment (France).

Below are attached the different articles available and you have access to the full texts of six monographs on each page of the online knowledge base of AGTER.

Further studies are also available: the report of surveys conducted in Poland in 2015, the synthesis of the WFAL Preparatory Forum on Europe. You will also find previous work on Denmark and on the Netherlands in the sheets folder.