A-1/14 Drivers of change in Norwegian agricultural land control and the emergence of rental farming

Norway represents one of the last countries in Europe where the structural development of agriculture is strongly state regulated through legislation and economic instruments. The result is an agriculture dominated by very small farms while, in most of the rest of Europe, farming has been rationalised into much larger units – thus improving the structural efficiency of agriculture. This study looks at how and why the pattern of farmland control (ownership and renting) in Norway has changed over the last fifty years. Using a study of agricultural policy documents, an investigation of statistics on farmland control changes, and a qualitative survey, we explore the considerable growth in the number of partly rented farms over this period. We suggest that change is attributable to three key factors: techno-economic development leading to a growing need for economies of scale, social norms curbing the transfer of farm properties outside of the family, and policy and legal instruments reducing the extent of property transfer. In addition, the weakening of compensation to smaller farmers since the 1990s has encouraged many to leave agriculture and made more rental land available – ultimately leading to a rapid shift from traditional owner occupation to a predominantly rented land system. Journal of Rural Studies,Vol 33 (januar 2014) 9-19

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