Food, farmers, and the future: Investigating prospects of increased food production within a national context
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionLand Use Policy. 2017, 67 546-557. 10.1016/j.landusepol.2017.06.031
With international food price shocks in 2008 and 2011, food security became a political priority in many countries. In addition, some politicians have recently adopted a more nationalistic stance. Against that background, this paper critically investigates the prospects of increased food production within a national context. We use a small, high-income country, Norway, as an empirical case. In 2012, the government set a goal of increasing agricultural food production by 20% by 2030. We ask: 1) How has food production in Norway developed before and after the goal was set? 2) What plans do farmers have, and what do they regard as the main obstacles to increased production? We apply a mixed method combining public statistics, a survey, and interviews. We analyze four production systems: a) milk; b) grass-based meat; c) combined pig and grain; and d) grain. These systems represent around 80% of the domestically consumed food produced on farms in Norway. Since 2000, aggregate food production has had a slight downward trend with periodic fluctuations. Based on a political economy approach, we identify land and labor as the most limiting factors. Capital is less of a hindrance and offers a potential for increased production. Farmers have modest expectations of increased production, though. This outlook resonates with the strong integration of agriculture into the wider economy, at both micro and macro levels, making it challenging to implement new policies and change farm practices on a broad basis. Increases in some specific products, however, are realistic.