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Family farm

The family farm is a daily working reality in most of the world, the basic unit of the mostly-agricultural economy in developing nations.

In developed nations it is viewed more sentimentally, as a lifestyle to be preserved for tradition's sake, or as a birthright. It is in these nations very often a political rallying cry, against change in agricultural policy, most commonly in France, Japan and the United States where rural lifestyles are often regarded as desirable.

In these countries, "strange bedfellows" can often be found arguing for similar measures despite vast differences in political ideology otherwise. For example, Patrick Buchanan and Ralph Nader, both candidates for the office of President of the United States, held rural rallies together and spoke for measures to preserve the so-called family farm. On other economic matters they were seen as generally opposed, but found common ground on this one.

Similar features occur in French and Canadian politics, although in the latter's case cynics say that this simply reflects the extreme power given to rural voters in the Canadian parliament (a rural Canadian Member of Parliament (MP) can represent four or five times fewer people than an MP elected from an urban riding).

Many view the family farm as a political ideal. Notable movements of this sort are primitivism, survivalism, some agrarian forms of isolationism, rural secession movements and eco-anarchism. It may be easier to list those that are seen to oppose it, notably those who promote agribusiness, in many ways the opposite of family farm ideals: corporate control of land and seeds with unlimited centralized technologies applied.

Bolder promoters argue that agriculture has become more efficient with the application of modern management and new technologies in each generation, and that family farms are now simply "obsolete".

However, that is an unpopular view. Purchasing local organic farm produce from local family farms is viewed by many as a form of moral purchasing, a choice to not rely on larger systems of corporate investment, land management, transport, and advertising.

Advocates of safe trade argue that the spread of genetically modified food is inevitable if local knowledge of local families is removed from the practicing agricultural community. Advocates of fair trade argue that family farms in all nations need to be protected, as the basis of rural society and social stability.

See also: agricultural policy, garden economy, fair trade.