The case for integrating household social needs and social policy into the international family farm research agenda

Florence A. Becot, Shoshanah M. Inwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Some farm scholars have contended that agricultural policies are seldom designed with the well-being and social needs of farm households in mind, even though the challenges experienced in the farm sector directly impact the farm household. Surprisingly little is known about how farm households meet their social needs and the role of social policy in the agricultural sector. As a first step towards a holistic understanding of the interactions between social policy, farm viability, and farm persistence, we conducted a cross-national comparative document review of government-sponsored social safety net programs available to farm households in two countries on opposite sides of the social policy continuum: France and the United States. In particular, we developed a foundational framework of social safety net programs to be used in future empirical work, identified four factors that may shape farm households’ use of social safety net programs and potential consequences on family farms, and propose a research agenda to move the literature forward. By grounding our article in the farm persistence theoretical tradition, our article offers an opportunity to reframe and broaden approaches to study family farms by highlighting the critical need for understanding the ways in which institutional social supports may play a role in supporting them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-198
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
StatePublished - Jul 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

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