A-23/12 Western European approaches to and interpretations of multifunctional agriculture – and some implications of a possible neo-productivist turn

Purpose – This chapter aims to explore the consequences of a renewed impetus for ‘neo-productivist’ agriculture on multifunctionality in Western Europe.Design/methodology/approach – We analyse how the issue of multi-functionality has been interpreted and implemented in Western Europe through a comparison between Norway and Scotland (as an EU example). Relevant policy documents and literature are analysed. The chapter explores whether European agricultural multifunctionality is being revised in response to the rise of neo-liberal (neo-productivist) ideologies, food security and climate change issues.Findings – Our results suggest that Norway and the European Union have developed somewhat different understandings of multifunctionality. In response to recent events these forms are diverging further with the EU strengthening and Norway weakening their respective policies and discourses. However, in both cases, food security and climate change are emerging as key elements in the restructuring of both policy and rhetoric.Research limitations/implications and practical implications – The study has been limited to an overview of multifunctionality within the European context and a case study approach using Norway and Scotland. Nevertheless, in highlighting the flexible use of the notion of ‘multifunctionality’, it illustrates to policymakers the importance of maintaining a focus on its key environmental and social objectives in the face of pressures to increase production and liberalise agricultural policies.Originality/value – This is one of the first studies to point out the varied nature of the ‘multifunctionality’ discourse in Europe and how it is likely to change further in response to economic, environmental and social changes. Almås, R. and H. Campbell (eds.) Rethinking agricultural policy regimes: Food security, climate change and the future resilience of global agriculture. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing, 73-97

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