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PR - Sustainable Family Farming – A Balance Between Economy, Ecology And Commerce

This paper explores the use of sustainability as a performance criterion in a family farming context. The proposed measure, adapted from one that has been considered by many authors for use at aggregate economy level, is focused on the need to ensure non-declining farm family welfare through time, and is based on measuring the change in the value of all productive assets controlled by the farm business using accounting prices that represent the impact on family welfare of a marginal change in the asset endowment. These accounting prices encompass the effects of prevailing technology, market conditions, ecological system characteristics and the political and economic context within which the business operates, as well as asset scarcity and substitution possibilities. The resulting measure, referred to as ‘genuine investment’ can be used to test whether any proposed plan for the farm business can support sustainable family welfare. Optimal farmer decision making is not assumed. The analysis focuses on how the measure might be implemented where the principal threat to farm business sustainability derives from economic, ecological and commercial considerations and the particular issues that emerge in these circumstances. Practical issues related to implementing this measure are also discussed.

Keywords: sustainable family farming, genuine investment.


Author(s): Russell N. (1)

Organization(s): Economic Studies School of Social Sciences University of Manchester (1)

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