Topic: Small farms, evolving typologies to support policy making
Keywords: small farms, farm household, food systems, typologies, economic integration, self-provisioning
There is a long standing theoretical and empirical debate on structural change in farming and the implications for the competitiveness of the agri-food sector, sustainability and territorial development.
Small family farms represent the largest number of farmers in Europe: their decision-making processes take place within farm and household needs and dynamics. At the same time, small farm households are connected to territorial food systems through various forms of economic integration. These features call for more salient and updated descriptions of small farm household requirements and dynamics for policy making processes and better targeted support.
This paper departs from a conceptual framework, which considers different dimensions and combinations of self-provisioning and economic integration and develops a typology of farm households. It draws upon qualitative and quantitative primary data gathered in selected regional food systems (NUTS 3), across twelve European countries as part of the European research project SALSA (http://www.salsa.uevora.pt/). Results illustrate the interactions between self-provisioning, i.e. the extent to which farm production is directed to fulfilling household’s consumption needs, and integration with markets, i.e. the extent farm production aims at being commercialized on one or more markets. This contribution provides a detailed understanding of the nuances around these variables across countries, and the interplays that take place in each context, in relation to external conditions (e.g. economic trends and political drivers) and internal factors (i.e. production sector, diversification, relations and capabilities, etc.), thus enabling a more realistic view on small farming.