Family Farming Knowledge Platform


Family farms make a major contribution to food security, added value, better living conditions, poverty reduction and the preservation of the environment and biodiversity in rural areas. In Germany approx. 90 percent of agricultural holdings are individual farms, mainly family-run in part- or full-time. They cultivate approx. two-thirds of agricultural areas in Germany. Family farms and enterprises with agricultural production methods represent the agricultural policy visions and values of the federal government in a particular way. The family farms' strength lies in their diversity.The federal government therefore places an emphasis on this in  German agricultural policy in order to create stability and prospects  for family farms. Measures in the framework of the farmers' insurance scheme, the Joint Task for the Improvement of Agricultural Structures and Coastal Protection (GAK) and tax law are targeted to favour family-run businesses in particular.



Family farms also play an important role in the national implementation of the EU-CAP for the period 2014 to 2020 through the support for the first hectares. Thus, farmers receive an additional EUR 50 per year for the first 30 hectares of their land and EUR 30 per year for the next 16 hectares.

The value of family farms is also emphasised through the support for young farmers. As of 2015, young farmers under 40 years of age will be able to receive additional support of approx. EUR 44 per hectare for a maximum of five years and 90 hectares of farmland.

According to the recent survey of agricultural structures in Germany, approx. 1 million people (including family and seasonal workers) produce food and raw materials in around 285000 agricultural holdings totalling approx. EUR 50 billion each year.

But rural areas are much more than "just" agriculture. Rural areas are the place for medium-sized businesses, services, craftsmen, renewable energies, research and development. The situation in each region varies greatly. The European Union, the federal government and the Länder deploy special support schemes to strengthen the rural areas and make sure they remain attractive. Local figures play an active role in the development and implementation of many support concepts.

The European Agricultural Rural Development Fund (EAFRD) focuses on improving the competitiveness of rural areas and supports structural change. This applies in particular to the sustainable management of natural resources, for example for the promotion of extensive livestock farming, which  completely or partially forgoes the use of mineral fertilisers and chemically synthesised plant protection products, and organic farming. In addition it supports nature conservation and landscape management as well as the continued cultivation of mountainous and other areas that are disadvantaged due to natural conditions. Last but not least it is about strengthening the economic power and attractiveness of rural areas through the creation of jobs and the provision of core public services.

For the support measures of rural development in Germany EAFRD funds from the EU budget of annually EUR 1.3 billion will be provided for the period 2014 to 2020. The federal government provides support funds in the amount of 600 million euros annually through the Joint Task for the Improvement of Agricultural Structures and Coastal Protection (GAK), the most important support instrument within the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Together with the Länder funds, the total resources of the GAK amount to nearly EUR 1 billion a year. The GAK is to ensure that agriculture and forestry set the course for future requirements and remain competitive within the EU.

Other ministries also support the development of rural areas, for example through the Joint Task for the Improvement of Regional Economic Structures (GRW) or the programme "Smaller cities and towns - supra-local cooperation and networks". 

International prospects for family farms.

The particular role of family farms in global food security is undisputed. Approx. 500 million out of the 570 million agricultural holdings worldwide are family farms. Even though most of them are smaller holdings they altogether produce more than half of all agricultural products.

At  international level the Federal Government therefore provides targeted support to family farming in developing and emerging countries, for instance through BMEL funds for the FAO Trust Fund with an annual budget of EUR8.3 million.

For many years the BMEL has been supporting the establishment of a product- and resource-conserving agricultural and food sector in developing and emerging countries through its bilateral cooperation programme with various projects (2015: EUR 12.6 million). Family farms and their organisation structures play a key role in this regard.

On 11 and 12 September 2014 the BMEL held a symposium titled "Prospects for family farms" aimed at creating an international exchange on funding possibilities for family farms and  developing joint best practices recommendations.

During the symposium the most important challenges faced by family farms worldwide were discussed. Central topics were, for example, the expectations and future strategies of young farmers, self-organisational structures, services, and political parameters of family farms. Representatives from politics, family farms, farmers' associations, cooperatives and other organisations in Germany and abroad participated in the two-day symposium. Strategy recommendations for the provision of further successful support for family farms through bilateral projects were extrapolated from the dialogue.


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Family farming lex

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League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development

Non-governmental organization
LPP is a research and advocacy organization for pastoralists and other small-scale livestock keepers. Pastoralism is a way of producing food with nature and an important component of agro-ecological practices. We support traditional pastoralists and advocate for keeping livestock as mobile as possible.