A spatial analysis of terrain features and farming styles in a disadvantaged area of Tuscany (Mugello): implications for the evaluation and the design of CAP payments
- farming styles,
- integrated GIS database,
- multi-criteria analysis,
- disadvantaged rural areas
In recent times there has been a growing awareness of the role of agriculture in providing public goods and services, in particular in less favoured areas. However, since agriculture is an economic activity, its permanence implies that it should be able to generate a satisfactory income for farmers. Where this is not possible, due to natural constraints or adverse economic and market conditions, in order to maintain an adequate use of farmland it is necessary to provide public aid to farmers. In this framework, the design of proper interventions aimed to promote rural development in less favoured areas should be based on a deep knowledge at the farm and territorial level. As regards the territorial level, the RDP zoning [art. 11 Reg. Ce 1698/2005] developed by Member States on the base of the guidelines provided by the European Commission is very often not sufficient to adequately define the territorial characteristics of rural areas. The use of GIS techniques may help to handle this issue by providing a better and more detailed knowledge at the territorial level. Farm level is important insofar as aid effectiveness is usually strongly depending on the type of farm that is receiving it. Thus, a careful selection of beneficiaries could determine a more effective and efficient distribution of resources. This paper aims to provide a spatial analysis of natural constraints and types of farming style in Mugello area and to analyse their relations with CAP aid distribution. Both Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and Rural Development Programme (RDP) payments have been taken into account. The paper combines a GIS analysis of terrain features with the theoretical approach of farming styles. For this purpose, the study integrates several sources of data: the 2010 Italian Agriculture Census, the Tuscany Regional Agency for Payments in Agriculture (ARTEA) database, and land cover data from the database Corine Land Cover (CLC-06), as updated to 2007 by LAMMA (Laboratory for Environment Monitoring and Modelling). A geo-referenced database including socioeconomic attributes of farms, land use, and terrain characteristics has been generated in order to merge information at territorial and farm level. The results of this integrated analysis confirm that Mugello is a very heterogeneous area as regards terrain characteristics despite the fact that it is totally included in less favoured areas. On the other side, farm strategies and economic results seem to be related to entrepreneurial characteristics as much as to natural constraints. The analysis of Pillar I payments and RDP payments for farms located in this mountainous area shows a very complex situation where the strategies implemented by farmers of the strongest farming styles may successfully counteract natural constraints. Besides, in the Authors’ opinion, the analyses performed highlight the importance of spatial analysis as a tool for evaluating how public resources are distributed on a territory, thus providing also useful information on the way this distribution could be improved, e.g. for ensuring a higher level of environmental services.