Effective natural handicap criteria application for productive and sustainable agricultural land-use management in Lithuania
Since 1975, European policy has provided some kind of support to areas with specific handicaps for agricultural production, in an attempt to maintain farming activities and population levels in them. The definition of clear criteria for the selection of the so called “Less Favoured Areas” (LFAs) is challenging because of the variability of regions within Europe and the variability of farm characteristics within each region. Actual selection remains very much a deductive approach and empirical evidence is scarce. This study investigates the relationship between the criteria of specific natural handicaps used for the delineation of intermediate LFAs (2014–2020) in Lithuania and generic farming condition and status. Results confirm the negative effects of selected natural handicaps on farm economic status and productive land use but raise some concerns regarding the idoneity of some of them, opening a way for their improvement.