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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

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Record number 358954
Title The way you do, it matters : a case study: farming economically in Galician dairy agroecosystems in the context of a cooperative
Author(s) Dominguez Garcia, M.D.
Source Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Jandouwe van der Ploeg, co-promotor(en): X.S. Fernández. - [S.l.] : S.n. - ISBN 9789085047964 - 194
Department(s) Rural Sociology
MGS
Publication type Dissertation, internally prepared
Publication year 2007
Keyword(s) rurale sociologie - plattelandsontwikkeling - melkveehouderij - sociale economie - sociale verandering - landgebruik - modernisering - stijl - milieueffect - agrarische bedrijfsvoering - coöperatieve landbouw - spanje - melkveehouderijsystemen - economische verandering - agro-ecosystemen - agro-ecologie - rural sociology - rural development - dairy farming - socioeconomics - social change - land use - modernization - style - environmental impact - farm management - cooperative farming - spain - dairy farming systems - economic change - agroecosystems - agroecology
Categories Agricultural Sociology
Abstract This thesis aims to study the sustainability of agriculture in Galicia (Spain) in a new and integrative way. Therefore not only economic but also social and ecological data and interest are drawn into the analysis. Farming, undoubtedly, is an economic activity. However, in order to obtain and market the final product natural resources are used and transformed. When pollution and depletion or exhaustion of those resources takes place, the future of the activity is at stake. Furthermore, social relations play an important role. The use of labour, for instance, is based on economic deliberations but also regulated by social interests. Social and political factors are at stake at the institutional level as well. These factors determine not only the orientation of agricultural production but also its volume, and prices. Agriculture is a multi-dimensional activity. It is an ecological activity by its use of natural resources. It is a social activity as production and consumption are based on a specific organisation of social relations. And it is a cultural activity as agriculture roots in a way of living which is time- and place specific and characterized by locally and historically specific norms and values. In short, it is not only an activity that generates economic value. In order to study the sustainability of an agricultural system, it is therefore important to analyse its impact on different (social, economic and ecological) domains but also to look into their interrelation and, hence, interaction. Theoretically there are two possible ways of interaction: (1) the interaction between the different domains has a positive effect and strengthen the sustainability of the whole system (synergy), or (2) the different domains counteract each other and a positive effect in one domains works to the detriment of another domain (trade off effect). In this thesis an integrative approach was chosen which made use of the insights and methods of different disciplines: ecological economics, agro-ecology and sociology. On the basis of the integrative approach we analysed if and how the economic, ecological and social effects of an agricultural system vary depending on the chosen style of farming. In order to understand actual Galician agriculture it is necessary to know the past. The first part of the thesis describes the recent history of Galician agriculture. Since the Second World War the traditional peasant agro-ecosystem transformed into an industrial system; this period is also described as a process of de-structuring. It included the dismantling of the traditional agro-ecosystem in force until the middle of the 20th century; and the recessive dynamics derived from the most recent process of modernisation throughout the period 1960-2005. In this thesis, the traditional agroecosystem is defined as an articulated and joint management of cattle, crops and nature with a high degree of integration and interaction. It analyses of political and socio-demographic factors that have jeopardised the continuation of that model. The dismantling of the traditional agroecosystem is effective during the last process of modernisation after 1960. Its effects come to the fore quite clearly in the changes in land use during that period, demonstrated by the evolution of the Useful Agricultural Area and the Total Area, as well as by the reduction in the number of farms. The main features of this process of modernisation are the alignment of farm management strategies based on intensification, specialisation and the increasing dependency on external market inputs as regards both biological and, specially, mechanical technology. Income squeeze, reduction of labour and abandonment of productive natural resources are the main consequences of that process so far. Although the study of the farming dynamics at the regional level suggests homogeneity of management-strategies, the second part of the thesis -looking for heterogeneity- shows that the practice is actually heterogeneous. Heterogeneity in the practice or the different ways of doing are encountered by applying the Farming Styles approach and methodology. Styles of farming are analysed at the level of the farmer and his/her farm, within the context of a cooperative of services, Os Irmandinos, located in Ribadeo (Lugo, Galicia). In a following step we analysed the social, economic and ecological impact of every style by means of different indicators. In this way we wanted to find out if the way of doing matters in terms of sustainability. This is interesting not only in order to evaluate the farmers' response of the past, but also to see which of the styles might have promising results also for the future and the possibility to achieve a more sustainable agriculture and balanced rural development. Within the different styles of farming, the style characterized as 'Farming Economically' comes to the fore as an interesting point of departure for the construction of sustainability in a multi-dimensional way.

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