A good functioning of the European food system is key to deliver food and nutrition security for all Europeans. However, that system faces many economic, environmental and social challenges as well as opportunities following socio-economic and technological developments that are not equally distributed throughout the EU. Future policymaking aiming at healthy and resilient systems needs to take into account this differentiation and diversity of approaches, which necessitate foresight activities that take into account both the development of important driving forces as well as the social and spatial diversity. Primary production — that is agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture — forms the foundation of the food system. Its structure and performance is influenced by various conditions shaped by both the public and the private sector. As economic agents, primary producers aim at generating a sufficient amount of income but their financial conditions are highly dependent on public and private actors, such as suppliers, processors, wholesale and retail businesses, the financial sector, as well as government regulators (including the EU’s agricultural and fisheries policies). In other words, the web of policy requirements as well as input and output market imperfections greatly shape farmers’ and fishermen’s livelihoods.

SUFISA aims to identify practices and policies that support the sustainability of primary producers in a context of complex policy requirements, market imperfections and globalization. Knowledge on market conditions and other driving forces exists, but in a fragmented way: relevant producer groups and regions have not yet been analyzed or framework conditions and driving forces have changed in the mean time. Moreover, little information is available on cross-linkages between various drivers and future opportunities and threats will need to be integrated for an encompassing analysis.

The work of the SUFISA project will be based on a close cooperation with stakeholders of the industry, policy makers and representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations. The combination of theoretical approaches and multi-actor involvement will be the precondition for the identification of practices and policies aiming at addressing market failures hindering farmers and fishermen to function sustainably.

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