University Press Leuven kicked off the year with the publication of a book on the future of farming in Flanders. As all across Europe and beyond Europe’s borders, there are lively debates in Flanders on how to move towards more sustainable farming systems. The book bundles various opinions and aims at facilitating constructive dialogue. In this sense, the co-authors of the book strive for moving against the stream of polarization in the debate on sustainable farming.
Tessa Avermaete contributed to a chapter on farm size. The key question is whether large and efficient farms are the solution or the demise of farming in Flanders. The author emphasizes the need for nuance when debating farm size, arguing that farm size is a vague concept. Moreover, the author pleads for taking the ultimate goals of our food system as a point of departure in the food and farming debate. “We want a system that produces healthy food for all – today and for future generation – and we want farmers that take care of the environment and yet, are flexible and innovative enough to deal with shocks and stresses of the system”.
The author is the manager of two European projects, COCOREADO and RUSTICA, that both try to contribute to making Europe’s food system more sustainable. For both projects, farmers are key stakeholders, no matter what the size of their farm is.
A progressive proposal for tomorrow’s agricultural policy
The fiery debates around the nitrogen problem, drought, loss of biodiversity, seasonal labour and excessive meat production and consumption have put agriculture back on the social and political agenda. The question gradually arises as to whether we in Flanders and Europe can still effectively engage in agriculture in a sustainable and economically profitable way, and how that agriculture should be shaped. However, the current debate is strongly polarising: agriculture versus ecology, marketing versus subsistence, scaling-up versus family farms, comparative advantages and specialisation versus diversity, and so on. Polarising debates unfortunately rarely bring answers. This book therefore aims to break through the classic contradictions. Several experts leave behind the fault line between ecology and agriculture and formulate recommendations for a progressive agricultural policy. Although each individual chapter offers solutions for a partial aspect of agriculture, the strength of this book lies precisely in the call to abandon ad hoc measures and work towards a coherent agricultural plan. The complexity of our current agricultural policy needs a coherent agricultural plan. This book takes the initiative to launch a progressive proposal to this end.
Contributing authors: Yves Segers (KU Leuven / CAG vzw), Joris Relaes (ILVO), Kurt Sannen (KU Leuven), Charlotte Prové (Ugent), Maarten Crivits (ILVO/UGent), Luc Vankrunkelsven (Wervel), Karolien Burvenich (Wervel), Bavo Verwimp (de Kijfelaar), Sarah Garré (ILVO), Dominique Huits (INAGRO), Tessa Avermaete (KU Leuven), Johan Nelissen (ACV pulse), Laurens De Meyer (KU Leuven), Fairouz Gazdallah (Solidagro), Suzy Serneels (Broederlijk Delen), Tom Ysewijn ( OWW), Myriam Dumortier (INBO / UGent), Hanne Flachet (FIAN), Ingrid Pauwels (Voedsel Anders), Esmeralda Borgo (Bioforum and freelance journalist), Frederik Gerits (UGent / ILVO), Lies Messely (ILVO), Bert Reubens (ILVO), Stephanie Schelfhout (UGent), Kris Verheyen (UGent)
E-book available in Open Access.
This publication is GPRC-labelled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).