Collective action by farmers has played an important role in the history of European agriculture. During the twentieth century, the foundation of agricultural marketing co-operatives contributed in many countries to better market access, increased farm incomes and rural employment. However, European agriculture is facing a range of new challenges nowadays. Farmers have increasingly lost control over supply chains, due to globalization processes and the growing power of retailers, and they are also confronted with a general decline and reorientation of policy support. At the same time, there is a need to respond to changing demands for food safety, quality and an attractive countryside. Against this background, a range of new types of collective farmers’ marketing initiatives is emerging across Europe by which farmers in coalition with other categories of societal actors aim to find answers for the challenges they are currently facing. Based on the outcomes of the European COFAMI research project, this article explores the diversity of strategies that characterize these newly emerging collective marketing strategies and the different types of social network relations that they are generating. Also, it outlines some main methodological principles for studying the dynamics and operation of new collective marketing initiatives.
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