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Multifunctionality in Agriculture

Multifunctionality in agriculture recognizes that agriculture can offer more than just production of commodities—food, fiber, and, in recent years, fuel. Multiple functions of agriculture include noncommodity benefits such as rural employment and economic development, ecosystem and soil revitalization, biodiversity, preservation of traditional seed varieties and animal breeds, recreation and tourism, and education and skill building. In theory, multifunctional agriculture can contribute to multiple forms of capital—financial, natural, social, and cultural. This in turn can make agricultural enterprises and the communities in which they exist more prosperous and more resilient. However, the term multifunctionality has been subject to much criticism and controversy due to the manner in which it has been applied in practice particularly through the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy.

More recently, multifunctionality is ...

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