What role for agriculture in rural development?

The European Commission partially justifies the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the EU with the CAP’s contribution to ‘viable rural communities’. Maintaining viable rural communities was one of the three strategic aims for the CAP set out in the Commission’s Communication on the CAP towards 2020 in November 2010. It was justified in the following terms:

To maintain viable rural communities, for whom farming is an important economic activity creating local employment; this delivers multiple economic, social, environmental and territorial benefits….
Agriculture is an integral part of the European economy and society. In terms of indirect effects, any significant cut back in European farming activity would in turn generate losses in GDP and jobs in linked economic sectors – notably within the agri-food supply chain, which relies on the EU primary agricultural sector for high quality, competitive and reliable raw material inputs, as well as in non-food sectors.

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