Is Small Beautiful? The Debate on the Future of Small Individual Farms in Poland

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The main concern of this article is to collect and discuss cases that are advanced for and against small agricultural farms at the international level in the EU and the national level in Poland and to make an assessment of these cases in the context of sustainable rural development. Cases concerning small farms and put forward by different actors reflect their visions of agriculture and rural development. Taking a closer look at those cases is interesting in the context of sustainability considerations, as there is a widespread programmatic demand for sustainable rural development, but at the same time visions for rural development may differ widely, and the question what exactly is meant to be sustainable often remains unanswered. Before the various arguments raised for and against small farms are discussed, some evidence from two Polish rural regions is presented. The empirical research was conducted in April and May 2012 in Eastern and Southern Poland in the context of my PhD-thesis. After presenting statements made by Polish smallholders, an assessment of the initially collected cases is made in the context of sustainable rural development. A.comparison of cases made for and against small farms and findings from empirical research shows that small farms do in fact have the potential to contribute to sustainable rural development.

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