Becoming in-visible: small family farms in rural Latvia in the framework of the National and EU Agriculture Policy

Kristīne Rolle, Andre Thiemann

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Latvia’s accession to the EU in 2004 triggered a major formalization of daily practices of family farms. The ability and willingness to adapt to, respect and implement the new regulations and policies is contingent upon a farm's social, cultural and economic capital and wider networks. Most family farmers are reluctant to formalise long-established practices like dairying that are suddenly counted, controlled or even banned. Being ambiguously placed vis-à-vis the EU and national agriculture policy that prioritize economic specialization and growth and threaten to bureaucratically turn small-scale farming invisible and worthless, these rural households have diversified their income sources, and selectively formalized some activities to access EU subsidies and/or rural development funds.The objective of the paper is to discuss the strategies of neo-rural small family farms in Latvia countryside in the framework of the National and EU Agriculture Policy. Ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the rural areas in Latvia (2018-2020). Drawing on our comparative fieldwork we discuss two contrasting sets of cases. On the one hand, a household rich in children but poor financially and inspired by an organic worldview critical of the “system” has founded a cultural NGO and accessed the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). On the other hand, a new cooperative of sea buckthorn growers following an integrated farming approach has captured significant European Regional Development Fund subsidies to upscale production, pool output, and enter the bulk export market. The formalizing certain aspects of farming went hand in hand with deliberately invisibilising others: a strong reliance on kinship ties, the creative and intelligent use of local resources and widespread social networking to protect and ensure the involved households' socioeconomic viability.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021
EventRSU Research week 2021: PLACES - Rīga, Latvia
Duration: 25 Mar 202125 Mar 2021
Conference number: 2


ConferenceRSU Research week 2021: PLACES
Abbreviated titleRW2021
Internet address

Field of Science*

  • 5.4 Sociology

Publication Type*

  • 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)


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