Small farms have always been a cornerstone of agriculture in the EU. They play a significant role both in production and the maintenance of rural vitality.
Small farms maintain local rural communities and provide important social, cultural and environmental services (public goods) as well as creating value added, particularly in the form of local specialist products. Consequently, the present situation and the effects of structural change on their survival are of great significance for rural areas in the EU.
The last two enlargements in 2004 and 2007 brought millions of more small and semi-subsistence farms into the EU. Their integration with markets is low and their competitiveness has been questioned. On the other hand, they populate rural areas, often the most fragile and disadvantaged regions.
Small Farms in the European Union
The high level conference “The Present and the Future of Small Farms in the European Union” – was held on 8-9 July 2011 in Krakow, Poland. The conference was organised by the University of Agriculture in Krakow, the Institute of Rural and Agricultural Development of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, the Malopolska Association of Agricultural Extension Services, the Agricultural Advisory Centre in Brwinów (Branch Office in Krakow) and the Office of the Member of the European Parliament Czesław Siekierski. It is considered as a follow-up to the ENRD Seminar on Semi-subsistence Farming held in October 2010 in Sibiu, Romania
Other relevent information
The ENRD’s NRN joint thematic initiative on short supply chains is of particular relevance to small farms. More on this initiative can be found here.