Date of Graduation

7-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

Daniel Rainey

Committee Member

Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr.

Second Committee Member

Joost Dessein

Keywords

Circular agriculture, Rural development, Sustainability, renewable resources, cultural change, stimulant policy, agricultural policies, Midden-Delfland

Abstract

The sustainability of the agricultural sector worldwide is increasingly being pressurized by ecological, economic, and social developments. The Dutch government is promoting enhancing circular agriculture as an important rural development strategy in response to the challenges the sector is facing. All farmers in the country will have to be involved in closed cycles by 2030, but many farmers do not want to or cannot make this transition. This study aims to identify the different factors that influence a farmer’s decision to transition towards circular agriculture. Based on thirteen semi-structured interviews with already transitioned farmers, a policy officer, a consultant, and a coordinator of a circular farmers’ network, it presents an updated framework through which the linkages between different drivers and circular agriculture as a rural development strategy can be studied. This study informs policy makers, and fills a gap in literature between studies on rural development, drivers of diversification, and circular agriculture. From the results, it becomes clear that the most important incentives for farmers to actively work on closing their cycles, are the presence of a learning network, subsidies, and the personal objectives related to gaining insights into the business. Circular agriculture should not be seen as a rural development strategy per se. Many farmers do not link circular agriculture to rural development strategies, but see their business as circular by nature. It fits many different farming styles, and has the potential to contribute to sustainability in the sector as it reduces the creation of waste and need for inputs, regardless of what strategies are pursued. Further research is needed to test the framework in different contexts, and to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that withhold farmers from actively transitioning towards closed cycles.

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