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How can alternative farmland management styles favour local food supply? A case study in the Larzac (France)

Baysse-Lainé, Adrien, Perrin, Coline
Land use policy 2018 v.75 pp. 746-756
agricultural land, case studies, committees, decision making, developed countries, farmers, food availability, guidelines, interviews, land policy, land rights, villages, France
This article seeks to bridge the research gap between farmland tenure management and food provisioning issues in developed countries, by focusing on concentration of agricultural production, access to land and local food supply. We conducted a qualitative study on farmland management in the northern Larzac (France), based on twenty in-depth interviews and document analysis. We distinguish six farmland management styles, i.e. local institutional arrangements encompassing organization of access to the land for farmers and relationships between land rights holders. They emerged or consolidated at three periods: a traditional commons style during the 19th century, three collective styles implemented by farmers’ organizations in the early 1980s, and two public styles on the estate of a local authority since 2010. The objective is to show that farmland management styles can serve as tools to foster local food supply, within “space-sharing strategies” based on the creation of farmland estates. In conclusion, we propose three guidelines for public decision-makers seeking, through land policies, to endorse local food provisioning: (i) include civil society organizations dealing with food issues in farmland management committees, (ii) return control of the commons to village councils, (iii) subsidize public acquisitions of land to support local food provisioning projects.