Calls for contribution to Special issue in Agriculture and Human Values: 
Farm households’ social and economic needs and the Future of Agriculture


Special issue editors: Florence Becot, National Farm Medicine Center - Shoshanah Inwood, The Ohio State University - Jeff Hopkins, USDA ERS - Becca B.R. Jablonski, Colorado State University - Allie Bauman, Colorado State University - Jessica Crowe, USDA ERS - Katherine Lim, USDA ERS - Ashley Spalding, USDA ERS


Efforts to recruit and retain the next generation of farmers have traditionally focused on supporting the farm business through a focus on access to land, capital, and business management skills. While addressing these barriers are important, these efforts are likely insufficient as they fail to consider the full suite of social and economic challenges faced by farm households. From a theoretical standpoint, farm families are embedded in a complex agri-family system. Within the micro-level of this system, the farm household and the farm operation are interconnected through the constant exchange of resources (i.e. time and money). Challenges faced by the farm business can therefore have negative consequences on the farm household, and likewise, challenges faced by the farm household can negatively impact the farm business. Despite these theoretical insights and some empirical evidence that farm families experience household-level challenges connected to health insurance and health care, childcare, and insufficient household income, we know little about how household challenges impact the farm business. Directly connected to this knowledge gap is a limited understanding of the ways in which existing social programs and policies (which are specifically designed to meet these needs) may support farm sector profitability, survivability, resilience, and transition.

We invite theoretical, empirical, and discussion papers at  the intersection of farm households’ social and economic needs, social programs and policies, and farm business viability for a special issue in the journal Agriculture and Human Values. Farm households’ social and economic needs include, but are not limited to: access to health insurance and health care, dependent care (child, elder, home health care), affordable housing, nutrition and food security, poverty, and retirement. The papers can be based on new research or can revisit data previously analyzed with a new eye towards the focus of this special issue. This special issue is connected to an upcoming virtual conference on the topic on September 13th. While the conference is focused on the U.S., farm households’ social and economic needs are not unique to the U.S. and the special issue will provide an opportunity to explore these needs in a range of countries. Free conference registration here.

Potential research questions include:

  • What are farm households’ lived realities meeting their social and economic needs?
  • In what ways do the social and economic needs of the household shape decisions connected to the farm operation’s production and marketing decisions?
  • How do sex, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and geography intersect with and influence farm household’s social and economic needs and the farm enterprise experiences, decision-making and trajectory?
  • To what extent can federal and state social safety net programs and policies bolster and increase the profitability, viability, survivability, or resilience of the farm operation?
  • What theoretical, data and/or methodological limitations are limiting the exploration of farm families’ lived realities meeting their social and economic needs and the intersection with farm business development and viability?

Submission guidelines and deadlines:
September 18, 2023: email your abstracts up to 350-words to; 
September 25, 2023: decisions on invitations to submit an article to the special issue;
November 30, 2023: paper submission deadline.