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Complexity and Obsolete Data Concepts: Canadian Farm Policy, and the Changing Structure of Agriculture


  • Freshwater, David


Agricultural data systems remain based upon now obsolete concepts. In particular, the "full-time, family farm" is still organizing concepts for much of the farm data system, and for agricultural policies. Yet farming has clearly bifurcated into: a relatively small number of large farms that produce the majority of the food and fiber; and a large number of small part-time farms that depend mainly on off-farm income for household well-being. Both types are family farms, but they are not the family farms of the past. It is broadly recognized that large farms pose complex challenges for data collection and policy. But small farms are also complex. While small farms may not account for much production they are important for land use issues and for maintaining political support for farm policy. As agricultural policy evolves beyond support commodities it is important to have a better understanding of the heterogeneity of agriculture. This will require more attention to how we define farming, farmers and the objectives of policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Freshwater, David, 2012. "Complexity and Obsolete Data Concepts: Canadian Farm Policy, and the Changing Structure of Agriculture," Staff Papers 119473, University of Kentucky, Department of Agricultural Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:ukysps:119473

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dimitri, Carolyn & Effland, Anne & Conklin, Neilson C., 2005. "The 20th Century Transformation of U.S. Agriculture and Farm Policy," Economic Information Bulletin 59390, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kenneth Poon & Alfons Weersink, 2014. "Growing Forward with Agricultural Policy: Strengths and Weaknesses of Canada's Agricultural Data Sets," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 62(2), pages 191-218, June.
    2. Poon, Kenneth, 2013. "Risky Business: Factors Affecting Participation Rate of AgriStability," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150978, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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    data concepts; farm policy; agricultural policy; Canada; data collection; risk; Agricultural and Food Policy; Farm Management; Risk and Uncertainty;

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