Being and Becoming a Farmer in an Urbanizing Society

Last changed: 02 November 2021
A close up on a cow. Photo.o.

A presentation of two researchers' collective research on farming.

Welcome to our project page! Here we present our collective research on farming. You are very welcome to contact us.

Send an e-mail to: sofie.joosse@slu.se & Send an e-mail to: ann.grubbstrom@slu.se


The Swedish agricultural landscape is changing rapidly, with larger and fewer farms. This trend will continue over the coming 10 years as one in three farmers is over 65 and often without successor. How do farmers deal with this changing agricultural landscape? What happens with family farms? Who will be the future farmer? And how will he/she farm? Below we introduce different farmer groups that we have addressed in different studies. Beneath each introduction you can find our publications on these farmer groups.


The future farmerA smiling woman on a field. Photo.

Who will be the future farmers and how will they farm? Swedish agricultural students stress the importance of balancing family/traditions with business goals. They emphasize the need to become an entrepreneurial and networking farmer that gathers knowledge in local and international settings to be able to meet today’s agricultural challenges. Many include a life partner in their vision of their farming future. The view of how a partner contributes is, on the one hand, traditional while also showing signs of gender role transformation. The young women see themselves as entrepreneurs and business women capable to run a farm on their own.

Grubbström, A., Stenbacka, S., & Joosse, S. (2014). Balancing family traditions and business: Gendered strategies for achieving future resilience among agricultural students. Journal of Rural Studies, pp. 35, 152-161.


The immigrant farmer

A red tractor on a field with sheep in the background. Photo.

Farmers may also come from outside of Sweden. Indeed, Sweden attracts farmers from a variety other countries, such as the Netherlands. As newcomers to this context these farmers need to creatively design various holding arrangements and farm managements. These migrant farmers typically work enthusiastically and many over hours to establish the farm of their dreams. Common for their narrative is a wish to make the business more efficient, yet in doing so; they meet challenges as risking their health, personal relationships and expose themselves to work-related accidents.

Grubbström A. & Joosse S (work in progress) Finding ways to be a farmer - young farmers in a changing sector.


The new farmerA young man in a cap standing in front of a large tractor. Photo.

Farmers are not always born farmers. As many family farms lack a family successor, selling or leasing to a so-called new entrant can ensure the continuance of (family) farms. In contrast to much of the existing research and policy, we suggest that non-family succession does not necessarily leads to continuity and innovation in farm management, and family succession not necessarily to continuity in farming practices. Our findings further suggest that policy schemes for matching retiring farmers and new entrants could be helpful as many farmers have difficulties finding a family successor and some new entrants feel they miss out on support from experienced farmers.

Joosse, S., & Grubbström, A. (2017). Continuity in farming-Not just family businessJournal of rural studies, 50, pp. 198-208.

Podcast from the Financial Times about new entrants and generational change in agriculture featuring Sofie Joosse and Ann Grubbström: https://www.ft.com/video/f2519a5c-2b9e-4b7b-90c2-34626c956cd3


The retired farmer

An older man feeding hay to a cow. Photo.

What happens to the farm when the farmer retires and there is no family successor? Often farmers resort to leasing or selling their land. That decision has implications for the community and the rural landscape for generations to come. The retiring farmer typically takes much care to select a fitting buyer/lessee. Nonmonetary values and motivations, such as social interaction and concern for the environment, the rural community and the agricultural landscape play a central role in this selection.

Grubbström, A., & Eriksson, C. (2018). Retired Farmers and New Land Users: How Relations to Land and People Influence Farmers' Land Transfer Decisions. Sociologia Ruralis, 58(4), pp. 707-725.


The social farmerA young man standing in a field talking in a cellphone. Photo.

When both the number of farms and the number of farmers decrease, farmers have fewer and fewer colleagues nearby. What does that mean for collaboration and support? Will this lead to new interactions, or new ways of communicating and modes to exchange experiences? We are interested in exploring the types of networks that farmers use, and have a closer look at their use of social media for farm-related learning and support.

Nothing published yet, but soon coming!


Facts:

Project participants

Ann Grubbström, Researcher, Division of Environmental Communication, SLU

Sofie Joosse, Researcher, Division of Environmental Communication, SLU

Funding

For our research, we have received financial support from a variety of funding agencies:

  • SLF: ‘Looking for farmers. Young farmers’ future strategies in a transforming sector’
  • KSLA: ‘Vem tar över gården?’
  • KSLA: ’Svenska gårdar slår igen – en möjlighet för bönder från andra länder’?