Since the end of socialism, Romania’s agricultural landscape has changed notably. In the 1990s, following decollectivisation, many Romanian farmers who received back small individual plots, pooled their land and resources with family and neighbours to cultivate in groups, or joined large agricultural associations for marketing. Subsequent decades have seen an aging population, reverse urban to rural migration, the country’s entry into the EU in 2007, and new financial support for farmers, both from the EU and the Romanian government. Given these changes, how many of the old group farms are still active? Are new ones emerging? And is there still a case for farmer cooperation in agriculture, as is being encouraged by the Romanian government? This is the first paper that addresses these questions, by seeking to trace the 1990s group farms and associations in Iasi and Ialomita counties and interviewing the members. Using a longitudinal approach and qualitative insights, it analyses what factors enabled some groups to continue and led others to dissolve. New groups, formed after 2005, were also located and analysed. An aging membership, outmigration of youth, and conflicts among members primarily underlay group farms becoming inactive, while many large associations went bankrupt. The still-active group farms were those able to mechanise and enlarge farm size with leased in land, drawing on new funding options and younger people to take over. Also, both the old active groups and newly formed ones typically specialise in livestock and dairy which require more labour and coordination. It is in such activities that we might also expect a future for cooperation among Romanian farmers.
Keywords: Cooperation; Group farming; Agricultural associations; Post-socialist; Romania