And it remains – by a long way – the most common model of farming operations in Europe today.  Some 97 per cent of all farm holdings in the EU are held by individual farmers. By and large, such farmers continue to own and manage land previously cultivated by their ancestors, and this way cultural traditions and values are maintained. Farmers and their families typically carry out most of the farm work themselves, derive the majority of their income from farming, and live on or close to the farm.
In terms of size, family-run farms cover around 69 per cent of the EU’s agricultural land, and their average size amounts to 10 hectares (ha). As corporate farms are, on average 15 times larger (152 ha), a common misperception can be that family farms are synonymous with small-scale operations. However, the reality is that in the EU, family farms also dominate the largest farm size class of 100 ha and larger, 60 per cent of which are held by families.

Family farms in Europe also demonstrate significant variability in terms of the wide variety of activities they engage in, the different resources they depend on, as well as their degree of market integration, competitiveness, and the share of labour they make use of in order to run the farm.

Policy support for family farms

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) focuses strongly on meeting future challenges related to food, natural resources and territorial balance.