Transforming food systems towards agroecology – a critical analysis of agroforestry and mixed farming policy in 19 European countries

June 2023
Jessica Buratti-Donham, Rosemary Venn, Ulrich Schmutz, Paola Migliorini


Agroforestry (AF) and mixed farming (MF) are two multifunctional land use systems that harbor an untapped potential for future climate mitigation, however, they remain outside of the norm. This review collected and analyzed the policy landscape for AF and MF in 19 European countries. The results show that while the policy landscape in Europe has been growing for AF, with support found within the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy and Green Deal, as well as European state polices, direct MF support is largely missing. No country assessed supports AF in its entirety (traditional, establishment, yearly maintenance) although, there are countries like Portugal, which show robust policies for at least one of these aspects. This paper also assessed the degree to which policies found can be considered agroecological, or contributing to an agroecological transition. Our analysis indicates that while agroecological elements do exist in some of the policies, it is currently primarily on plot, field, and farm level, involving input substitution or the change of one practice for another. We conclude that policies are currently not designed in a cohesive manner, and at times work against one another. We therefore recommend that all future policies center themselves on the High-Level Panel of Expert’s 13 Principles of Agroecology, as well as on transformative and inclusive policy design frameworks.

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