Research from the School of Economics could help shape changes to the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) being considered by the European Parliament.
Professor Sophia Davidova, Professor of European Agricultural Policy, is leading an international team of researchers looking at proposals for a new CAP package for the period 2013-20.
Professor Davidova is studying the value of semi-subsistence and small family farming to communities across Europe, using case studies in countries such as Italy, Portugal and Poland as well as the example of Scotland's crofters. Her colleague Dr Alastair Bailey will investigate the contribution of small farms to the rural environment and traditional landscapes.
Around 66 per cent of Europe's farmers 8 million out of total of 12 million receive direct payments under the current CAP arrangements. Around 70 per cent of farm holdings in the EU area are less than five hectares. However, very small farmers are currently excluded from the CAP.
Professor Davidova said: 'The research will consider the future of small and semi-subsistence farmers within the context of the CAP.
'In many countries these types of farms have become more important politically because of their social value in acting as a buffer against pockets of rural poverty.
'They also have a role in preserving rural communities and protecting traditional environmental features. The long tradition of family farming in many countries in Europe has contributed towards the maintenance of a living countryside, linked to local towns, with an attractive landscape and biodiversity.'
The research will evaluate the effectiveness of the proposals on the table for the CAP after 2013 and make recommendations on policy measures to enhance the capacity of small farmers across Europe to deliver public good.
Professor Davidova's research findings will be presented to the European Parliament in May 2013.
For further information or interview requests contact Martin Herrema in the Press Office at the University of Kent
Tel: 01227 823581