Societal Expectations on Structural Change in Agriculture: How can the Sector Cope with it?

In Germany, productivity gains and other factors induce structural changes in agriculture since decades. While the number of farms decreases simultaneously average farm sizes with respect to area and herd sizes increases. Conflicts between agricultural reality and society’s perception will always surface when production methods of large farms become public and significantly divert from the societal expectations mainly if the society still have romantic views from story-books in their mind. In this study societal perception of structural change in agriculture is analyzed using a mixed method approach to identify the main conflicts and to evaluate options to cope with these. In the focus group discussions as well as in the online survey a rejecting or critical attitude towards structural change in agriculture was stated. Structural change in agriculture was often associated with ‘mass production’, ‘mechanization’ or ‘agrarian factories’. Participants requested a restructuring of agriculture towards smaller and more diversified farms; however, most are aware that the technical progress require also adjustments in the agriculture. As expected, results do not provide an easy solution to cope with societal expectations. Responsibility for a better alignment of structural change to societal expectations is seen multi-layered: The government, the farmers, the processing industry as well as the consumers seem to be in demand.

Schiefer, Gerhard
Rickert, Ursula
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Conference Paper/ Presentation
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ISSN 2194-511X (Other)
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-23

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