SUFISA conference, Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Workshop 1.1

 Supply chain arrangements: new perspectives from European agri-food economies (convened by Damian Maye, Mauro Vigani, Hannah Chiswell (UoG, UK) and Pierre-Marie Aubert (IDRI, France))

Introduction to the session

Agricultural markets have always been characterised by uncertainty. Nevertheless, agricultural sectors are likely to become more volatile and market-orientated in the future, with reduced state intervention. This session examines supply chain arrangements (vertical and horizontal) that enable producers in different sectors to manage commodity markets. Key research findings from the SUFISA project and related H2020 projects will be presented to assess how supply chain arrangements are evolving and perceived by farmers and other food chain stakeholders now and in the future. Louise Manning will then comment on the insights these new data reveal regarding sustainable supply chain arrangements. Participant will also be encouraged to share their own experiences and insights.

Paper 1: “Agricultural commodity markets and new forms of institutional governance”

Damian Maye1, Mauro Vigani1, Hannah Chiswell1, Erik Mathijs2, Isabelle Bonjean2 and James Kirwan3 (SUFISA project, 1University of Gloucestershire, UK; 2University of Leuven, Belgium; 3 University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde, Germany)

Abstract. This paper conceptualises emerging agri-economic geographies as new forms of institutional governance. More specifically, we highlight the role of contractualisation (vertical relations) and the evolution of cooperative forms of governance (horizontal relations) in agri-food economies, and their potential to create new spaces of agri-food governance that enable producers to manage market uncertainty and increased exposure to global economic relations. Findings from SUFISA are presented to support this argument, with analysis of new forms of institutional governance examined empirically by extensive qualitative and quantitative analysis of agricultural commodity markets in different European regions. The analysis shows how forms of contractualisation, collective action, the use of market data, futures and risk management strategies are emerging at the farm and food chain level.

Paper 2: “Factors Affecting the Successful Implementation of Direct to Consumer (D2C) Food Business Models: Evidence from Small-Scale Farmers and Fishers”

Barbara Tocco, Matthew Gorton, Jeremy Phillipson, Richard Freeman and Gunnar Vittersø (Strength2food project, Newcastle University, UK)

Abstract. In light of increasing concentration in downstream industries, power imbalances and concern regarding unfair trading practices, as well as a desire to better valorise quality, interest has grown in alternative food supply chain arrangements. This includes Direct-To-Consumer (D2C) business models, whereby producers establish their own exchange relationships with end consumers. Drawing on interview and survey evidence with farmers, fishers, fishmongers and customers in the UK, this paper identifies five factors affecting successful implementation of a D2C business model: product characteristics (including implications for last mile costs), capabilities, organizational and network resources, vision and social values, and market opportunities. Successful implementation of a D2C business model typically requires far more than development of a new marketing channel but rather the realization of secondary value-capturing opportunities (servitization) and a drastic transformation of producer-consumer relationships. This represents a fundamental challenge to primary producers in terms of their capabilities, resources, vision and values.

Paper 3: “Sustainable transition in a context of market uncertainty: what tools for farmers? Insights from a scenario exercise”

Aubert, PM, Loveluck, W., Gardin, B., Schwoob, MH, Treyer, S. (Sufisa project, Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, France)

Abstract. This paper draws on a series of 26 scenario participatory workshops held across 11 European countries to highlight the potential role of different policy tools and collective strategies in driving sustainable transitions of farmers. It shows that while supply chain arrangements will certainly play a key role to help farmers coping with growing market uncertainty and become economically more resilient, achieving a fully sustainable transition (taking into account all three pillars of sustainability) will require much more than an evolution of food chain governance.

Discussant: Louise Manning, Royal Agricultural University, UK

Workshop 1.2

Risk Management in European Agriculture: Evidence-based Policy and Behavioral Perspectives

Chair: Isabelle Bonjean (KU Leuven)

  • Managing Market and Production Risk in CAP post-2020 –  Erik Mathijs (KU Leuven)
  • How unwrapping Producer’s Risk Preferences can Help Design Better Policies –  Isabelle Bonjean (KU Leuven)


Workshop 2.1

Fresh Water Aquaculture – Fishbowl Session

Chair: Susanne von Muenchausen

Aquaculture is the global food industry’s fastest growing sector. Approximately 90% of global aquaculture production is in Asia. There is considerable scope to develop Europe’s aquaculture sector. Aquaculture, which is effectively the farming of fish, is likely to become increasingly important in light of global food security and the development of a more ‘sustainable diet’ and the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, wherein the consumption of red meat (and meat in general) as a source of protein will need to reduce.

Case studies within the Sufisa project have examined aquaculture production in Italy (both marine and freshwater) and Germany (two types of freshwater production). The focus in this session is on freshwater production. The key challenges faced by aquaculture farmers will be presented, as well as some of the main strategies employed. The presentation will conclude by highlighting three overarching issues that we would like to examine in this session, although this does not preclude the discussion of other issues that participants may feel are important.

The session will be organised in the form of a ‘Fish bowl’. The format for this is quite straightforward: following a brief presentation by Dr Susanne von Münchhausen, our two invited experts (Anna Świątek from the Dolina Karpia LAG and Carl-Christian Schmidt, former Head of the Fisheries Policies Division of the OECD) will briefly respond to the main issues raised. The room will be laid out in such a way that the three people mentioned above will sit in the middle, together with a spare chair. Anyone wishing to contribute to the debate can then come and sit on the chair and make their point. Once they have finished, they leave the chair vacant and someone else can come in. And so on.

The three overarching issues include the need to:

• Increase awareness / improve the image of modern aquacultural practices at all levels, including regulators and consumers.

• Improve marketing and cooperation amongst producers, in order to add value to the fish produced and increase the demand for aquaculture-produced fish.

• Increase the capacity of aquaculture within Europe to make a more significant contribution to the achievement of food security, at both a European and global level.


Workshop 2.2

Responding to change – strategies in a diverse and evolving landscape

A significant task in agro-food studies is to understand how different farming systems respond to regulatory interventions and how regulatory interventions can be used to promote resiliency. However, farming systems often do not respond similarly to the same change of conditions, but the response depends on contextual differences like infrastructure, technological configuration of the farms, value-chain dynamics, competencies of the farmers, as well as local political- and economic factors. This session will use the case of the changing conditions for European dairy producers to explore the how different configurations of farming systems respond to these changes. The dairy sector is particularly interesting because as a number of recent events have resulted in a volatile dairy market. The gradual reduction of the CAP and the recent abolition of the milk quota system, which was installed in 1984, has resulted in a much more market-oriented sector. The abolition of the milk quota coincide with a number of other factors that influence the dairy price including a reduced Chinese dairy powder market, an import ban from Russia and most recently the 2018 drought. Participant will also be encouraged to share their own experiences and insights.

The session will fall in three parts:

  1. Presentation: Changing conditions for European dairy producers, Martin Hvarregaard Thorsøe, Postdoc Aarhus University, DK
  2. Presentations: Strategic response of European dairy farming systems – 4 short introductions
    1. Denmark, Egon Bjørnshave Noe, University of Southern Denmark, DK
    2. United Kingdom, Damian Maye, University of Gloucestershire, UK
    3. France, Pierre-Marie Aubert, Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, FR
    4. Latvia, Mikelis Grivins, Baltic Studies Centre, LV
  3. Joint debate: “Sustainable strategies in a diverse and evolving landscape?” Moderated by Talis Tisenkopfs, Baltic Studies Centre, LV


Workshop 3.1

Territorial differentiation. Novel pathways for regional agricultural policies.

Chairs: Fabio Bartolini (UNIPI), Daniele Vergamini (UNIPI)

Round Table with Fabio Bartolini (UNIPI), Daniele Vergamini (UNIPI), Jose Muñoz-Rojas (University of Evora)

Farming systems are currently being reshaped by the evolution of production and consumption toward more globalised value chains.

Nonetheless, for certain systems, territorial conditions are still highly influential in decision-making but not effectively explored in the literature. To contribute to filling such a gap, we examined the role of territorial conditions in influencing decision-making in various farming systems across Europe, namely: extensive cattle production in silvo-pastoral systems and intensive and extensive oil production in Portugal, intensive chicken production in Denmark, oilseed rape in Germany and traditional wine production in Italy.

Based on the information provided by farmers and other key actors, we empirically obtained a response to the following questions: what is the role of territorial conditions in shaping decision making by various farming actors? and how does this change across scales and in different contexts? To contribute to developing a better understanding of the territorial condition and of their role in value chain dynamics the session 3.1 will be arranged as a participatory open workshop. The structure of the workshop will contain the following points:

  • The role of territorial conditions in driving decision making in farming systems across Europe – Josè Munoz Rojas, Fabio Bartolini, Daniele Vergamini
  • Eliciting territorial condition influencing decision making in the farming system
  • Current knowledge about strategies and institutional arrangements
  • Joint debate: Towards a better understanding of territorial conditions and decision making.

Workshop 3.2

Financial instruments, agricultural processes and Future expectations – forecasting – what steers our expectations ?

Chairs: Egon Noe (SDU), Mikelis Grivins (BSC) and Martin Thorsøe (AU)

Proposed program for the workshop:

Introduction and convening Egon Noe

Short country-wise presentations based on the following three questions (3 ppt).

  • “Who are the main financial actors engaging with farmers? Are there new financial actors entering the agricultural landscape?”
  • “What are the main dynamics in relations between financial actors and farmers? What kind of business, service, ownership and relationship models are emerging (if any)?”
  • “To what extent do the national legislation and regulation support/hamper new kinds of investors and farming businesses?”

Plenary discussion based on the questions:

  • What are the major differences if any in the financial instruments and external investors?
  • To which extend do external financial actors plays a domination role in defining future expectation to farming?
  • What understudied gaps and potentially interesting perspectives emerge from these discussions?