AGROMIX – Introducing Policy Co-Development for Agroforestry and Mixed Farming

May 2021
Ulrich Schmutz, Sara Burbi, Paola Migliorini


Mixed farming systems have been the predominant farming system in Europe for many centuries. However, the first mention of the word ‘agroforestry’ in policy documents of the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP) was only recently, in the 1998 EU forestry strategy (Larson et al. 2019). The first World Agroforestry Congress in Europe was only held in May 2019. Agroforestry as a mainstream land use has come to Europe late and spearheaded by pioneers like e.g. Martin Wolfe, the late Professor working at Coventry University and Wakelyns agroforestry (Wolfe and Pasiecznik, 2000). Den Herder et al. (2017) estimated the total area under agroforestry in the EU-27 about 15.4 million ha which is equivalent to about 8.8% of the utilised agricultural area (UAA). Over the last decades, structural changes in the EU agriculture have been reflected by declining number of farms, farm size growth and re-specialization of production, moving away from mixed farming (Neuenfeldt et al., 2018, EC Eurostat). The percentage of mixed farming of total agricultural holdings in EU-28 has decreased from 30% in 2005 to 21% in 2016 (EC Eurostat). With 8.8% of the UAA in Europe this is already a substantial area and currently more than the certified organic UAA. Although, certified organic farming is fast growing and likely to double in size in the next 20 years, it is not always, but mostly, mixed farming. In contrast, agroforestry within organic farms can be found more often but it is by no means exclusive to certified organic farming, or farming systems based on agroecological farming practices. Often low input farmers with mixed grazing or agroforestry (e.g. pasture feed beef, hay-milk systems, free-range chicken or agroforestry free-range pigs, chicken, sheep & beef,) are very close to organic management and could convert to organic farming quickly if the market can accommodate further organic produce. Therefore, both systems overlap and there are synergies which need to be considered in the policy work. Especially if another 10% of the UAA in Europe is converted to certified farming systems, including mixed farming and agroforestry in EU legislation regulating certified farming systems is one the policy options.

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