Knowledge for Development

Family farming and prospects – challenges and prospects: in-depth analysis


Date: 28/07/2014


This document discusses the definitions, challenges and future prospects of family farming in the EU. It provides: (i) a definition of the concepts of family farming and an overview of the main figures available; (ii) an examination of the current and new challenges in economic, demographic, sociological and territorial terms; and (ii) an analysis of the future prospects for family farming. The authors, Sophia Davidova, University of Kent, UK and Kenneth Thompson of the University of Aberdeen, UK argue that the main economic challenges to family farms are access to farming resources such as land and capital, and access to markets, particularly in terms of bargaining power in the food chain. One of the key economic drivers of future changes within the family farming sector is the differential between farm incomes and incomes in the rest of the economy. Technological progress and structural change will offset certain disadvantages of some but not all family farms in respect to economic efficiency. More knowledge-intensive and innovative management will allow some family farms to grow, capture economies of scale, and maintain and increase their competitiveness in the European and world market. Family farming – often by pluri-active and diversified households – is likely to continue to dominate EU farming structure despite trends towards larger non-family farms.   

(European Parliament, 04/2014)

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