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Ökologischer Betrieb
© BLE, Bonn/Thomas Stephan
Ökologischer Betrieb
Institute of

BW Farm Economics


MIND STEP - Modelling INdividual Decisions to Support The European Policies related to agriculture

Mind Step - Photo collage
Mind Step - Photo collage

MIND STEP - Modelling INdividual Decisions to Support The European Policies related to agriculture

MIND STEP addresses the Work Programme Topic RUR-04-2018-2019, contributing to Rural Renaissance by further developing analytical tools and models to support policies related to agriculture and food.

Agricultural policies like the EU CAP are widening the scope to contribute to the Paris climate agreement and the Sustainability Development Goals. From the Commission's legislative proposals (June 2018) it is expected that the European Union (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be redesigned in line with this. Consequences are among others a move of the CAP to farm specific measures and an improved link to environment, climate change and ecosystem services. It is proposed that Member States and regions develop their own CAP strategic plan with more attention to the regional implementation of the CAP. This wider scope and measures with a focus on individual farmers ask for a new generation of impact assessment tools. Current state-of-the-art agricultural models are not able to deliver individual farm and local effects as they are specified at higher levels of aggregation.

Background and Objective


The overall ambition of MIND STEP is to support public decision making in agricultural, rural, environmental and climate policies, taking into account the behaviour of individual decision-making units in agriculture and the rural society.

The MIND STEP specific objectives are

  • to develop a highly modular and customisable suite of Individual Decision Making (IDM) models focussing on behaviour of individual agents in the agricultural sector to better analyse impacts of policies,
  • to develop linkages between the new IDM models and current models used at the European Commission to improve the consistency and to broaden the scope of the analysis of policies,
  • to develop an integrated data framework to support analysis and monitoring of policies related to agriculture,
  • to apply the MIND STEP model toolbox to analyse regional and national policies and selected EU CAP reform options and global events affecting the IDM farming unit, working together with policymakers, farmers and other stakeholders,
  • to safeguard the governance and future exploitation of the MIND STEP model toolbox.


  • improvement of the capacity to model policies dealing with agriculture and related natural resources, food and international trade
  • improvement of policy design, impact assessments and monitoring
  • strengthened transdisciplinary research and integrated scientific support for relevant EU policies and priorities.


In MIND STEP three working groups of the Thünen Institute are part of this project.

One group of Thünen Institute of Farm Economics is working on data requirements for indicators on European policies related to agriculture and data management:

  • Collects and reviews data requirements from all partners and develops with other partners a guide for building data interfaces
  • The guide addresses beside conceptual implementation also the technical programming environment, the software production cycle, the integration into the MIND STEP model toolbox
  • Develop and apply approaches to match economic and biophysical data sets

and farm structural change:

  • The improvement of farm exit decisions in current models  by developing and estimating innovative empirical models based on geo-referenced, bio-physical and single-farm data
  • Develop and implement a structural change/strategic behaviour/farm exit module
  • Results from exit estimations will be employed to improve the Agrispace model and/or for the land market module of the IFM-CAP model

Another group of Thünen Institute of Farm Economics is working on influence of risk in agricultural production. The aim is to improve capacity to model the uptake and the impacts of (policy) risk management instruments at the farm level. The potential of different behavioural theories to improve the modelling of the adoption of different risk management instruments will be analysed. The empirical application will focus on weather risk in crop farms. The analysis will combine new survey data with existing regional and farm data.

The team of Thünen Institute of Market Analysis is working on ...

Data and Methods

Main data sources:

  • Farm accountancy data
  • Farm structure survey data
  • Several weather, climate and soil data
  • Agricultural prices
  • Survey data on farmers decision behaviour


  • Regression models (OLS and logit models)
  • Machine learning algorithms
  • Selection models
  • Behavioural theories on risk decision making


Our Research Questions

  • What explains farm exit?
  • Which role plays spatial distribution?
  • How is risk influencing production decisions?
  • What are drivers of farm structural change?

Links and Downloads

Involved external Thünen-Partners


9.2019 - 12.2023

More Information

Project status: finished

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