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Environment, Land Use and Amenities - the New Dimension of Rural Development

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While agriculture, environmental conditions, and rural development are concerns common to both sides of the Atlantic, their interrelationships are viewed quite differently. For the EU, agriculture is seen as a means of sustaining the countryside; keeping it attractive to tourists and prospective residents. Farmers are stewards of the land and as such a key to rural development. For the US, agriculture and the environment are seen in potential conflict. Most of the expenditure on conservation goes to keeping environmentally sensitive cropland out of production. At the national level at least, the appeal of the countryside is not seen as a means to rural development, so that conservation programs tend to be seen as a threat to rural development by reducing the use of local off-farm services. Part of the difference in viewpoint may stem from the greater socio-cultural significance of agricultural landscapes in the EU. However, recent research in the US suggests that landscape is important in attracting new rural residents and visitors and there is growing recognition on both sides of the Atlantic that the natural environment helps shape rural growth. More research is needed on the relationship between the environment and rural development as unsupported assumptions seem to underlie policies in both regions.
McGranahan, D.A. , Thomson, K.J.
Includes references
EuroChoices 2008, v. 7, no. 1
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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