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Prospects of multifunctional agriculture as a facilitator of sustainable rural development: Swedish experience of Pillar 2 of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

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Agriculture remains one of the dominant activities in rural areas across the European Union (EU), not least in respect of land use and its impact on landscapes. The Agenda 2000 reform of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) introduced rural development as an integrated part of agricultural policy. The present study focuses on the second pillar of CAP. Multifunctional farming, more than any other rural activity, has a role to play in integrating the natural environment with the cultural landscape and socio-economic development. The question of how multifunctional agriculture can facilitate sustainable rural development is addressed in terms of mechanisms and inherent possibilities. Results from a case study in Östergötland in Sweden are discussed in relation to five other European case studies. Some main findings are that Pillar 2 has made it possible for rural inhabitants to continue living in rural areas and that the policies are effective in identifying and supporting new opportunities for farm diversification. The traditional agricultural landscape can be seen as a key component in various diversification activities in rural areas, contributing to economic as well as social and environmental sustainability.
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Keywords: Pillar 2; agricultural policy; multifunctionality; sustainable rural development

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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