AGROMIX – Introducing Policy Co-Development for Agroforestry and Mixed Farming

Ulrich Schmutz, Sara Burbi, Paola Migliorini

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Mixed farming systems have been the predominant farming system in Europe for many centuries. However, the first mention of the word ‘agroforestry’ in policy documents of the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP) was only recently, in the 1998 EU forestry strategy (Larson et al. 2019). The first World Agroforestry Congress in Europe was only held in May 2019. Agroforestry as a mainstream land use has come to Europe late and spearheaded by pioneers like e.g. Martin Wolfe, the late Professor working at Coventry University and Wakelyns agroforestry (Wolfe and Pasiecznik, 2000). Den Herder et al. (2017) estimated the total area under agroforestry in the EU-27 about 15.4 million ha which is equivalent to about 8.8% of the utilised agricultural area (UAA). Over the last decades, structural changes in the EU agriculture have been reflected by declining number of farms, farm size growth and re-specialization of production, moving away from mixed farming (Neuenfeldt et al., 2018, EC Eurostat). The percentage of mixed farming of total agricultural holdings in EU-28 has decreased from 30% in 2005 to 21% in 2016 (EC Eurostat). With 8.8% of the UAA in Europe this is already a substantial area and currently more than the certified organic UAA. Although, certified organic farming is fast growing and likely to double in size in the next 20 years, it is not always, but mostly, mixed farming. In contrast, agroforestry within organic farms can be found more often but it is by no means exclusive to certified organic farming, or farming systems based on agroecological farming practices. Often low input farmers with mixed grazing or agroforestry (e.g. pasture feed beef, hay-milk systems, free-range chicken or agroforestry free-range pigs, chicken, sheep & beef,) are very close to organic management and could convert to organic farming quickly if the market can accommodate further organic produce. Therefore, both systems overlap and there are synergies which need to be considered in the policy work. Especially if another 10% of the UAA in Europe is converted to certified farming systems, including mixed farming and agroforestry in EU legislation regulating certified farming systems is one the policy options.

The working assumption in AGROMIX’s policy research is that despite several agroforestry and mixed farming support policies the full potential of this system in Europe has yet to be lifted. AGROMIX is a new 4-year H2020 project which started in November 2020. The AGROMIX policy workshops will contribute to a better scientific understanding of policy co-development from a bottom-up citizen perspective, contributing to the 2021-2027 CAP policy dialog. Novel for agroforestry and mixed farming policy development is a set of comparative policy workshops at different policy levels: EU level, member states in Eastern and Western Europe but also non-EU states within Europe, like Switzerland and UK. Those may have more flexible regulations like Lawson et al. (2019) report for Switzerland (Dupraz et al., 2019) or potentially better (or worse) regulation for ‘Environmental Land Management’ as planned in the UK. In addition, devolved federal state levels are studied, e.g. in East and West Germany. This multiple approach gives a better policy understanding for the EU level and the stakeholder-led bottom-up approach will help ascertain which policies (related to agroforestry and mixed farming) are best pursued at which level to maximise impact. The workshops adopt a format similar to the ‘citizen jury’ methodology used in social science as a form of mini-public (Bryant and Hall, 2017, Wakeford et al., 2015). The participants are citizens, but already with prior knowledge and interest in food and farming policy. They can be farmers, food-chain actors, environmental charities or any other interested stakeholders, but their input will be as citizen not necessarily as representative of a specific lobby group or agenda. As in previous work (Burbi et al., 2016, Zasada, Schmutz et al., 2019) participants will be presented with preliminary scenario modelling results/visualisations. Input from across the world (Kumar, 2019) and especially through the AGROMIX advisory board will also be used. This presentation introduces the research concept, and invites a critical discussion on the research and modelling approaches proposed (AGROMIX, 2020).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315
Number of pages316
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2021
Event5th European Agroforestry Conference: Agroforestry for the transition towards sustainability and bioeconomy - Online, Nuoro, Italy
Duration: 17 May 202119 May 2021


  • Agroforestry
  • Organic
  • Mixed farming
  • policy analysis
  • Policy co-design


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