Towards the resilience of European farming systems, together

Published on
July 5, 2021

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In the SURE-Farm project, the resilience of the European farming systems was assessed. SURE-Farm is short for Sustainable Resilient EE Farming Systems. The Wageningen University & Research coordinated this project, which was a collaboration of sixteen agricultural universities and institutes. The project started in June 2017 and finished four years later in June 2021. Professor Miranda Meuwissen of the Business Economics group was project coordinator. She presents her findings about resilience in the Veenkoloniën, the Netherlands.

The Veenkoloniën are located in the province of Groningen and Drenthe, in the Netherlands. Researchers of the SURE-Farm project also assessed ten other farming systems in Europe. Europe’s farming systems are diverse. The challenges for Swedish poultry farmers are vastly different than those of Polish vegetable farmers. “In several systems in Europe we looked at risks that the agricultural sector has to deal with” explains Miranda Meuwissen. “Not only financial risks, but environmental and societal ones too.”

Farmers face challenges from climate change and the decreasing livability of the countryside. Dutch crop farmer Jan-Reinier de Jong maintains a positive attitude. “There’s always something, but we’ve learnt to deal with that” he says. “That’s also how we learn to deal with other issues, like changing weather or legislation.
I think farmers can handle it as long as the change is gradual.” European farming systems are fairly resilient in terms of agility of actions. This became visible in the Mazovia region in Poland. Because of COVID-19, less workers were available. “They have switched from labour intensive vegetable cultivation to less labour intensive cultivation (...) extremely quickly” says Miranda Meuwissen. “On the other side of Europe, in the grain producing areas of England, farmers are extremely active in learning networks to learn how to deal with Brexit’s uncertainties together.”

The positive examples mentioned in the interview are there. But many things still have to change in the farming systems. Applying the lessons learned in the SURE-Farm project can help to do this. These can aid bankers, insurance companies, farmers and policy makers. To move together towards the resilience of European farming systems.

If you would like to learn more about the SURE-Farm project, please visit the website:

In this video the take-home messages of the SURE-Farm project are presented:

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