After an introduction, this paper examines the character of Poland’s agriculture sector and draws out the key features of the debate regarding the true numbers of both farms and farmers. Those who employ restrictive statistical conventions to minimise the apparent size of the sector are issued with the challenge of how to deal equitably with the millions of poorly educated, small-scale landowners and their families who survive off a mixture of subsistence farming and welfare. This leaves open the question of why traditional peasant farming has been so resilient to the forces unleashed in the past dozen years, a subject that occupies the third section of the paper. Notwithstanding the absence of past change, a bewildering array of schemes emanating from both the domestic government and international organizations hold out the promise of progress in the future. The fourth section of the paper outlines the major initiatives and considers their prospects of success. All of this must be seen in the context of the course of Poland’s troubled negotiations for entry into the EU and the impact that this is having on the attitudes and outlook of its farming community, subjects which occupy the penultimate section of the work. A summary and conclusion close the paper.
Working Paper No. 2, 25 pp.