European Agroforestry: Co-creating policies for transforming food systems

On February 7th, 2023, 22 stakeholders (farmers, policy makers, academics and civil society) got together to discuss various policy options and scenarios for transition, and to co-create policies that work for all and that generate true, meaningful and lasting change. The day began with presentations by Gerry Lawson who discussed the agroforestry policy landscape under the EU CAP Strategic Plans in the last two years, as well as the current landscape. Elise Van Broeckhoven and Jacopo Goracci (both farmers) talked about their experience running agroecological and agroforestry farms in Flanders and Italy, and explained the difficulties they were facing as a result of current legislative realities.  


Policy priorities recommendations

The 22 stakeholders came up with ten different policy recommendations for improving agroecological and agroforestry practices. They include:

  1. Review all current and planned legislations to amend them towards a common food systems approach (creating complementing strategies in agriculture, rural development, fisheries, food safety, international trade, transport, energy, environment, health and humanitarian assistance) instead of having different departments focusing on single issues and working in silos with fragmented objectives and varied (often contradicting) perspectives.
  2. Create regional supply chains for agroforestry and agroecological products that value and support all agroecological farms and enterprises (including those under 1 ha in size). 
  3. Create an enabling environment for agroforestry and agroecology at all entry-points, including with intelligent and responsive funding mechanisms. 
  4. Increase all agroecological practices at farm level to make them eligible to receiving EU funding (including diversifying types/number of crops grown on a single farm; leguminous crops; nitrogen transfers from livestock; long and diverse crop rotations; intercropping; constant soil cover and catch crops, including between trees and other permanent crops; genetic diversity in livestock; diversify habitats, including high-diversity landscape features; organic farming; organic matter in soil). 
  5. Create incentives to extensively manage livestock through agroforestry and mixed farming systems. Such incentives should adopt a long-term approach, and there should be support for traditional systems, as well as support in the implementation of new systems including the management of these. 
  6. Increase research on best practices at a local and regional scale for all aspects of the food system including climate, soil, land management, and crop and animal diversity. 
  7. Integrate a long-term approach into funding strategies that generate transformative results over time, including the continuation of successful projects after reassessment and amendments.  
  8. Increase the understanding and capacity of agroecology by supporting participatory agroecological research and researcher-practitioner partnerships; building agroecological capacity of public advisors and advisory services; introducing agroecological expertise into agricultural colleges and training programmes; and create farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange and field trips. 
  9. Empower local governments and municipalities to direct funds to local initiatives. 
  10. Promote participatory and multi-stakeholder approaches in knowledge generation (including gender equity, cultural representation and racial justice). 

Next Steps:   

The discussions and reflections gathered during this first workshop have set the foundation for the second policy workshop which is scheduled to take place in June 2023. If you would like to find out about future workshops or for any other information related to the project get in touch with Jessica Donham at 

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