Across the European Union, the receipt of agricultural subsidisation is increasingly being predicated on the delivery of public goods. In the English context, in particular, these changes can be seen in the redirection of money to the new Environmental Land Management scheme. Such shifts reflect the changed expectations that society is placing on agriculture—from something that provides one good (food) to something that supplies many (food, access to green spaces, healthy rural environment, flood resilience, reduced greenhouse gas emissions). Whilst the reasons behind the changes are well documented, understanding how these shifts are being experienced by the managers expected to deliver on these new expectations is less well understood. Bourdieu’s social theory and the good farmer concept are used to attend to this blind spot, and to provide timely insight as the country progresses along its public goods subsidy transition. Evidence from 65 interviews with 40 different interviewees (25 of whom gave a repeat interview) show a general willingness towards the transition to a public goods model of subsidisation. The optimisation and efficiency that has historically characterised the productivist identity is colouring the way managers are approaching the delivery of public goods. Ideas of land sparing and land sharing (and the farming preference for the former over the latter) are used to help understand these new social and attitudinal realities. The policy implications of these findings are discussed, with reference to the new scheme’s ‘priority themes’.
Bibliographical noteThe authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers whose comments have substantially improved the quality of the paper.
- Public goods
- Good farmer
- Land sharing
- Land sparing
- Environmental Land Management