The Value of Farming : How to count for multifunctional productionfrom Swedish land use
AbstractThere is an ongoing political debate in Sweden about the future role of agriculture and generalland use in the countryside. In the Ministry of Agriculture some specific issues have beenemphasised. First, the negative environmental effects caused by agriculture shall be reduced.Secondly, different goods and values produced by agriculture besides food production shallbe supported. Third, the countryside in itself has a value which needs maintenance support1.These policy issues also correspond to the changes that are actually taking place in practice.The new word that is commonly used to describe the diverse outputs from farms ismultifunctionality. A common definition of multifunctional production is that it includes allproduction from land use except for basic production of food and fibre2. Following thisdefinition production of food and wood from forests is regarded as basic tasks in farming, butadded monetary or non-monetary benefits are seen as multifunctional production. The generaltrend in Swedish farming is that these new functions in land use are gaining weight comparedto the traditional basic tasks, but this change is to some extent hindered by incompletecompensation for the benefits produced. The current change is caused by new trends in themarkets, in the politics and in ethical standpoints3. However, compared to most otherproductive sectors, the agricultural sector is very much influenced by political economicintervention4, which heavily steers cost-revenue analysis for individual farmers. It is thereforevery important to discuss how the economic system could develop in the agricultural sector,to provide for a sustainable use of the land resources. This is in the end a political issue, but itshould be proceeded with a scientific discussion since farming also depends on physical andbiological reality.