The "New Associationalism" in agriculture: Agro-food diversification and multifunctional production logics
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As an alternative to the negative externalities created by agro-industrialism adopted over the latter half of the twentieth century, the European Union has now adopted a policy of agro-food diversification. While this policy has been viewed as a gateway to a sustainable agriculture development, it presents unique challenges to agricultural business owners as they attempt to switch production ethics. This research follows the transition of farmers in England as they attempt to take advantage personal social assets, contacts incentives and resources offered by the government in this process. Incorporating methodologies from the recent "relational turn" in economic geography, the research follows how individuals utilize personal networks and existing business contacts as they move into more diversified production systems. Agro-food diversification is characterized as a dynamic and challenging process that requires a significant shift in outlook from a specialization and yield maximization to a more substantive investment in social networks to build business economies of scope and synergy for a diversified agribusiness.