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Family farming

Family farming

Family farming is the most common operational farming model in Europe and thus of great importance in the EU.

The concept of family farming

The concept of family farming covers various elements. From a sociological perspective, family farming is associated with family values, such as solidarity, continuity and commitment; in economic terms, family farming is identified with specific entrepreneurial skills, business ownership and management, choice and risk behaviour, resilience and individual achievement.

Family farming is often more than a professional occupation because it reflects a lifestyle based on beliefs and traditions about living and work.


The importance of family farming in the EU

Family farming is the most common operational farming model in Europe and thus of great importance in the EU. 

The majority of the EU's 12 million farms are family farms, passed down from one generation to another, and contribute to the socio-economic and environmental sustainability of rural areas.

There is a high diversity of family farms in the EU, in terms of their size, activities they engage in, availability of resources, degree of market integration, competitiveness, etc. They operate in different economic, agro-ecological and social contexts, ensuring food security while meeting rising societal expectations for food safety, quality, value, origin and diversity of food, and thus contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.


2014: UN International Year for Family Farming (IYFF)

2014 was designated the International Year of Family Farming at the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it has the objective of raising the profile of family farming by focusing world attention on its role in alleviating hunger and poverty, providing food security and improving livelihoods, while protecting the environment and biodiversity. 

>> Go to the IYYF website (FAO)


Brussels conference, 29 November 2013

The conference "Family farming: A dialogue towards more sustainable and resilient farming in Europe and the world", organised by the European Commission's Agriculture and Rural Development Directorate-General, will draw attention to the important role of family farming, the key challenges and priorities for the future, as well as addressing the best means of supporting family farms.

The outcome of the conference will contribute to the FAO European Regional Conference scheduled in 2014 in Bucharest (Romania) as well as other events related to family farming that will be organized in many EU Member States in the course of 2014.

>> Go to the conference webpage



An online-consultation on "the role of family farming, key challenges and priorities for the future" was open from 2 August till 11 October 2013 to gather information of the role of family farming, key challenges and priorities for the future.

All citizens, organisations and public authorities in the European Union and beyond interested in the topic of family farming were invited to contribute to the consultation. The results of the 3414 contributions will be presented in the November conference.

>> More on the consultation



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