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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

What is traditional pastoral farming? The politics of heritage and ‘real values’ in Swedish summer farms (fäbodbruk)

Eriksson, Camilla


The number of pastoralists maintaining production systems with small numbers of traditional breeds of cattle decreased dramatically with the modernisation and industrialisation of agriculture in Europe during the twentieth century. While these pastoral systems were not compatible with agricultural industrialisation policies, they provide a far better match to current European Union (EU) policy with its emphasis on high nature values and various cultural heritage protection measures. Today, these farms can obtain EU funding for preserving natural and/or cultural heritage values rather than producing agricultural goods. Although such EU subsidies make a welcome contribution to the livelihood of traditional farmers, the critical definitions that have to be made regarding what is considered traditional or non-traditional can be problematic. This paper provides an example from Swedish fäbodbruk, a smallholder system of forest pasturing with traditional breeds of cattle, goats and sheep in northern Sweden. As policymaking and agricultural subsidies during the twentieth century reflected the contemporary political agenda of that time, farmers have been subjected to many changes in priority in political decision making. The contemporary push for traditional farming and heritage has made policymaking potentially even more difficult, e.g. as regards the question of what should be considered traditional and what makes up natural and cultural heritage. This paper examines how farmers are affected by valuations and assessments made by the relevant authorities on whether they are producing natural and/or cultural heritage


European Union policy; CAP; natural heritage; cultural heritage; traditional farming; traditional breeds

Published in

2011, Volume: Vol 1, article number: 25
Publisher: SpringerOpen

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Social Sciences
    Economics and Business

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