Socio-psychological Impacts of the Agricultural Policies: An Interdisciplinary and Comparative Study (Switzerland, France and Québec)

What are the impacts of agricultural policies on the social and psychological situation of farmers?

Project Summary

Do agricultural policies affect the social and psychological situation of farmers? The answer appears obvious. However, three studies conducted in France, Switzerland and Quebec seem to give a negative answer. Their findings are very similar in spite of their different disciplinary and methodological approaches. Is the farmer’s ‘blues’ so widespread that it is not affected by agricultural and economical settings? Is the structural evolution of agriculture so deep that the agricultural policies cannot affect the farmer’s socio-psychological situation?

The research team will compare the agricultural setting in France, Switzerland and Quebec to evaluate the impact of the political, economical and juridical context on farmer’s situation. Based on an interdisciplinary perspective, the research was aimed at defining quantitative and qualitative indicators to assess the socio-psychological situation of farmers in the three regions. Furthermore, the project also took into account the international environment by studying the WTO negotiations on agriculture to analyze their potential impacts on the three local settings.

Academic Output

Working Paper

The Social and Psychological Consequences of Agricultural Policies

For the past fifteen years, agriculture in industrialized countries has been going through a series of redefinitions of its framework conditions. In 1992, the introduction of the agricultural sector into the negotiations of the World Trade Organisation (then still GATT) sounded the death knell for the agricultural exception that had protected the various agricultural sectors from free international competition. Reforms followed to make agriculture compatible with world trade rules. The notion of decoupling (separating pricing policy from income policy) has emerged, leading in its wake to the notion of multifunctionality. At the heart of the political debate are the current challenges facing agriculture: further liberalisation of agricultural trade, the removal of obstacles to the free movement of agricultural products, the recognition of non-market public goods (ex-territorialities) produced by agriculture, such as landscape maintenance, the maintenance of natural resources and animal welfare. This liberalization led to profound restructuring in the countryside: accelerated disappearance of small farms, continued increase in their size, decrease in agricultural commodity prices, decrease in income, increased dependence on public policies, etc.

Executive Summary

A common finding from three studies conducted in France, Switzerland and Quebec is at the origin of this research: the same psychological malaise seemed to affect farmers in these three countries. In view of the different policies in force in these three countries, which at first seemed rather divergent, the question of the influence of agricultural policies on the social and psychological situation of farmers therefore arose. The project therefore set itself the objective of identifying the effects of these various developments on the social and health situation of agriculture in three study regions: Quebec, Franche-Comté and French-speaking Switzerland. It focused on the dairy sector as the dominant agricultural sector in the three selected regions.

Research Team

Yvan Droz
Coordinator
Graduate Institute Geneva

Valérie Miéville-Ott
Co-Coordinator

Jérémie Forney
Principal Member
University of Neuchâtel

Mario Hébert
Principal Member

Dominique Jacques-Jouvenot
Principal Member
Université de Franche-Comté

 

Ginette Lafleur
Principal Member
Université du Québec à Montréal

Diane Parent
Principal Member
Université de Laval

Christian Ghasarian
Associated Member
University of Neuchâtel

Pierre Praz
Associated Member

Michel Tousignant
Associated Member
Université du Québed à Montréal

Sylvie Guigon
Associated Member
Université de Franche-Comté

Ellen Hertz
Associated Member
Université de Neuchâtel

Jean-Jacques Laplante
Associated Member

Raymond Massé
Associated Member
Université de Laval

Pierre Vandel
Associated Member
Université de Franche-Comté

Status

completed

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Regions

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Coordinator

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