Multifunctionality in Agriculture

Evaluating the degree of jointness, policy implications

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These proceedings examine the nature and strength of jointness between agricultural commodity production and non-commodity outputs from the perspective of three areas important to the agricultural sector: rural development, environmental externalities and food security. This workshop also examined whether the relationships among these non-commodity outputs were complementary or competing. Finally, the policy implications that could be derived from the findings of this workshop were also a key element in the discussions and are summarised in the Rapporteur’s summary.



Rural Viability, Multifunctionality and Policy Design

The Federal constitution of Switzerland guarantees the national security of food supplies. Under the terms of Article 102, the Federal Government must ensure that, in the event of a crisis or a shortage, essential goods and services that the economy is unable to provide by itself will be guaranteed by the government. The objective is to overcome any supply crises by means of precautionary measures in six sectors: food, energy, medical supplies, transport, industry as well as information and telecommunications infrastructure. Supplementary to Article 102 of the Federal Constitution, Article 104 states that agriculture shall contribute “to securing food supply for the population.” The term “supply security” can be understood to cover both food safety and food security. In Switzerland, food safety is subject to food laws and is based primarily on Article 118 of the Federal Constitution on the protection of public health. Agricultural policy measures deal mainly with the food securityAccording to OECD (2001), the fundamentals of multifunctionality are defined by i) the existence of joint production of commodity and non-commodity outputs and ii) the fact that some of the non-commodity outputs exhibit the characteristics of externalities or public goods (OECD, 2001). Non-commodity outputs include the impacts of agriculture on the environment, such as rural landscape, biodiversity and water quality but also socioeconomic viability of rural areas, food safety, national food security and the welfare of production animals together with cultural and historical heritage. aspect.


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