A-7/19 The economic potential of agroecology: Empirical evidence from Europe

This article discusses the economic dimensions of agroecological farming systems in Europe. It firstly theoretically elaborates the reasons why, and under what conditions, agroecological farming systems have the potential to produce higher incomes than farms that follow the conventional logic. This theoretical exposition is then followed by a presentation of empirical material from a wide range of European countries that shows the extent to which this potential is being realized. The empirical data draw upon different styles of farming that can be described as ‘proto-agroecological’: approaches to farming that are agroecological by nature, but which may not necessarily explicitly define themselves as agroecological. The empirical material that we present shows the huge potential and radical opportunities that Europe's, often silent, ‘agroecological turn’ offers to farmers that could (and should) be the basis for the future transformation of European agricultural policies, since agroecology not only allows for more sustainable production of healthier food but also considerably improves farmers' incomes. It equally carries the promise of re-enlarging productive agricultural (and related) employment and increasing the total income generated by the agricultural sector, at both regional and national levels. While we recognise that agroecology is a worldwide and multidimensional phenomenon we have chosen to limit this analysis to Europe and the economic dimension. This choice is made in order to refute current discourses that represent agroecology as unproductive and unprofitable and an option that would require massive subsidies. Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 71, Pages 46-61

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