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Vol. 23 No. 1 (2021)

Is an alternative to private property durable in agriculture?

February 25, 2021


The desire for sustainability calls for new development paths for the agricultural sector. Some suggest creating small to medium size farms, performing agricultural practices that preserve ecosystems, are labour intensive and connected to local markets. New farmers are a necessity in many rural areas, yet
the main obstacle to the settlement of newcomers is access to land. This research suggests an alternative to private property of land, such as experienced by the Foncière Solidaire created by the association «Terre de Liens» in France, which collectively buys land (13,500 shareholders, end of 2019) to lease them
to new farmers under long-term basis. The research question is therefore: “Is this alternative to private property of land durable?” Here, durability means the permanence of farms, despite the on-going upheavals. We suggest that the values are the key, and that values leading to everlastingness describe a
conception of Justice. To identify whether or not the values describe a conception of Justice in practice, the discourses should be consistent with the six axioms of the Grammar of Justice by Boltanski and Thévenot (1991) when implemented to a Local Common Good (Thévenot, 1993). The whole movement cannot last without the association Terre de Liens being permanent itself. We will highlight that the discourse
(official communication) of the Terre de Liens association calls on Justice, being consistent with the six axioms. We  also underpin that the main challenges are the evolution of regulations, and especially the European laws and French annual financial laws, which set the rules for fiscal exonerations and drive agricultural practices. Whatever these evolutions, it is likely that the association would achieve permanence because of the high number of actors (communes searching for farmers, applicants to taking or transferring farms, donors, shareholders) who are federated around its “Fair” raison d’être. Yes, there is a potential for durable alternative to land private property in agriculture.


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