Agriculture and fisheries

Agricultural policies and rural development


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Agriculture, in conjunction with other land-based industries such as forestry, has played an important part in the development of rural economies in OECD member countries.

Although the contribution of agriculture to rural incomes and employment is low in most regions and declining, it continues to have a key role in the management of natural resources, particularly land and water.

Work in the OECD has examined the role of agriculture and farm households in the rural economy, including through farm household diversification. It has also focused on the links between economic activity and land use in agriculture and rural communities, and their implications for policy implementation and evaluation. The work highlights the diversity of rural areas and the wide range of policy goals and approaches adopted across OECD member countries.

Economic sustainability
Agricultural policy measures that support commodity prices are poor instruments for improving the rural economy. Measures that target economic sustainability in rural areas are better - for example, encouraging the development of new or diversified economic activities for farm households, or ensuring the supply of rural amenities.

However, the greatest benefits to rural areas are likely to be generated by a shift away from an agricultural sectoral emphasis towards place-based policies that address the overall economic performance of rural areas.

 Key publications


 Agricultural Policies and Rural Development: A Synthesis of Recent OECD Work (pdf, 1.2 MB)

 The Role of Agriculture and Farm Household Diversification in the Rural Economy: Evidence and Initial Policy Implications (web page including publication to download)

 Methods to Monitor and Evaluate the Impacts of Agricultural Policies on Rural Development (pdf, 1.0 MB)

 Farmland Conversion: The Spatial Dimension of Agricultural and Land-use Policies (pdf, 0.9 MB)

 Links to related OECD pages

 Sustainable agriculture

 Rural Development


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