Grazing institutions in Castilla-La Mancha, dynamic or downward trend in the Spanish cereal-sheep system
In most parts of the world, pastoral societies are governed by internal rules or legal bodies and legal rules (institutions) at the regional and national scale. In the Large Scale Grazing Systems (LSGS) of the European Union (EU), institutional management is also dependent on EU regulations, which underpin a considerable part of total policy support. In this research we argue that the effectiveness of policy intervention should be determined "on the ground" and taking into account the structural and social features of particular LSGS. Under a community-based research approach, the main stakeholders (arable farmers and landless pastoralists) and organisations governing the cereal-sheep farming system in Castilla-La Mancha (South-Central Spain) were consulted with the aim of assessing the sustainability of the mixed cereal and sheep system. In this area, sheep farming is a secondary land use relying on the agricultural residues from arable farming, but representing some 35% of the total value of production farming per land unit. Our results showed that regional and EU regulations are uncoordinated and uncongenial for the continuity of the mixed cereal and sheep operation. They are supported by separate policy schemes, while operating on the same land units. Arable farming is more affected by EU regulations and corresponding policy support schemes, while sheep farming is more regulated by regional institutions. EU support was 32% and 13% of total farm income for cereal and sheep farmers, respectively. Arable farmers received a regulated non-market grazing fee. They abide by the law, but have no incentive to facilitate the sheep subsystem. The farming practices of sheep farmers are more market-driven as the value of production makes up the bulk of their total income. However, they are squeezed by strict regional regulations when implementing pastoral surviving strategies (mobility, accessibility, and diversity of land based resources). Both subsystems are following disconnected trends, with increasing cultivation intensity in arable farming and the abandonment of shepherding and a consequent consolidation of sheep flocks and an increase in indoor feeding. This research suggests that sensible institutional management should be derived from a proper knowledge of the social and structural features of particular grazing systems and the disentangling of their main constraints.
Mixed grazing systems Mobility Accessibility Land resources Incentive compatibility Policy support
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