This seminar will focus on the use of farm level and agricultural data in developing modeling tools for agricultural and environmental policy analysis. The efficacy of public intervention on agriculture is largely determined by the existence of reliable information on the effects of policy options and market developments on farmers' production decisions, and in particular, on key issues such as levels of agricultural and non-agricultural output, land use and incomes, natural resource use, structural change and the viability of family farms. Over the last years, several methods and analytical tools have been developed for policy analysis using various sets of data. Such methods have been based on integrated approaches in an effort to investigate the above key issues, and have thus attempted to offer a powerful environment for decision making, particularly in an era of radical change for both agriculture and the wider economy.
The agricultural sector in the EU is currently facing an era of change and farmers need to adapt to the changing patterns induced by the food crisis, the global financial crisis, farm output price volatility, macroeconomic instability, climate change and a new post-2013 CAP. Throughout this unstable period, the impact of these changes on farmers' incomes will be a key issue to be addressed by EU policy makers, thereby stressing the need for new comprehensive analytical tools, well-adapted to the Commission's informatics environment and well-suited to reliably assessing the effects of the anticipated changes.
Since the recent radical reform of the CAP, markets have been extremely volatile, while farmers are becoming more exposed to risk as they have to cope with a deregulated and increasingly liberalized and competitive world market, and are nowadays attempting to adjust to this new environment. In parallel, these new market and policy conditions will certainly have an effect on the use of natural resources and hence on the environmental concerns of farming activities. It is generally anticipated that agricultural and food prices will remain quite volatile in the years ahead, posing a major challenge both for producers, with respect to having to operate under increased uncertainty, as well as for EU policy makers, who must effectively monitor the changing environment and its effects on farmers' behavior and performance, so as to fittingly adopt the policy measures.
The seminar will attempt to address issues associated with the utilization of micro- and macro-level agricultural data to the development of coherent and reliable modeling tools dealing with the policy analysis of complex rural and environmental conditions. The seminar will bring together economists, modelers, agricultural and environmental economists, and policy analysts, in order to discuss and assess new modeling tools in analyzing the farmer's behavior in a continuously changing market and policy environment.