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The persistence of family farming: a review of explanatory socio-economic and historical factors

Mieke Calus (UGent) and Guido Van Huylenbroeck (UGent)
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Abstract
The family farm is a corner-institute of West European agriculture. This article highlights the main characteristics of the family farm and reviews both the socio-economic and political-institutional arguments used for the persistence of this structure in West European farming. At micro level, the socio-economic rationale behind the family farm states that economies of scale tend to increase the optimal farm size, but that this tendency is partly offset by the importance of transaction costs for monitoring labour results. Moreover, the flexibility of family labour, the accumulated human capital within the farming family and the ability to withstand hard (financial) times are factors in favour of the family farm. At macro level, the availability of food for the population has been one of the major concerns of policy makers. Different protectionist measures have been developed in order to secure enough food over time. Although the kind of farming system is not specified in these measures, the farm lobby has influenced the legislations in order to safeguard the current family farms. In the last decades the governmental concern has broadened due to environmental concerns. To reach these goals, the family farm approach is useful as family farms are essential for the kinds of landscape and rural social life. Taking into account the history of the family farm, the paper proposes different strategies, related to labour and capital allocation that can strengthen the survival of the family farm in the next decades.
Keywords
AGRICULTURE, EUROPEAN-COMMUNITY, FARMERS, ECONOMY, GENDER, WORLD, NETHERLANDS, RESISTANCE, DIVISION, POLITICS

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Calus, Mieke, and Guido Van Huylenbroeck. 2010. “The Persistence of Family Farming: a Review of Explanatory Socio-economic and Historical Factors.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies 41 (5): 639–660.
APA
Calus, M., & Van Huylenbroeck, G. (2010). The persistence of family farming: a review of explanatory socio-economic and historical factors. JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE FAMILY STUDIES, 41(5), 639–660.
Vancouver
1.
Calus M, Van Huylenbroeck G. The persistence of family farming: a review of explanatory socio-economic and historical factors. JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE FAMILY STUDIES. 2010;41(5):639–60.
MLA
Calus, Mieke, and Guido Van Huylenbroeck. “The Persistence of Family Farming: a Review of Explanatory Socio-economic and Historical Factors.” JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE FAMILY STUDIES 41.5 (2010): 639–660. Print.
@article{1071299,
  abstract     = {The family farm is a corner-institute of West European agriculture. This article highlights the main characteristics of the family farm and reviews both the socio-economic and political-institutional arguments used for the persistence of this structure in West European farming. At micro level, the socio-economic rationale behind the family farm states that economies of scale tend to increase the optimal farm size, but that this tendency is partly offset by the importance of transaction costs for monitoring labour results. Moreover, the flexibility of family labour, the accumulated human capital within the farming family and the ability to withstand hard (financial) times are factors in favour of the family farm. At macro level, the availability of food for the population has been one of the major concerns of policy makers. Different protectionist measures have been developed in order to secure enough food over time. Although the kind of farming system is not specified in these measures, the farm lobby has influenced the legislations in order to safeguard the current family farms. In the last decades the governmental concern has broadened due to environmental concerns. To reach these goals, the family farm approach is useful as family farms are essential for the kinds of landscape and rural social life. Taking into account the history of the family farm, the paper proposes different strategies, related to labour and capital allocation that can strengthen the survival of the family farm in the next decades.},
  author       = {Calus, Mieke and Van Huylenbroeck, Guido},
  issn         = {0047-2328},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE FAMILY STUDIES},
  keyword      = {AGRICULTURE,EUROPEAN-COMMUNITY,FARMERS,ECONOMY,GENDER,WORLD,NETHERLANDS,RESISTANCE,DIVISION,POLITICS},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {639--660},
  title        = {The persistence of family farming: a review of explanatory socio-economic and historical factors},
  volume       = {41},
  year         = {2010},
}

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