Cultivating Narratives: Cultivating Successors — A Reply to Steiger et al.
The paper in this journal, Cultivating Narratives: Cultivating Successors, by Steiger, Eckert, Gatrell, Reid, and Ross (2012),continues to develop an underresearched and increasingly relevant topic, particularly given the benefit many commentators believe is to be derived from "effective succession," in terms of the delivery of the food security agenda (Lobley, Baker, & Whitehead, 2010). Although Steiger and colleagues make an important empirical contribution to our understanding of succession — a topic that, despite its prevalence, we know surprisingly little about (Dyck et al, 2002; Lobley & Baker, 2012) — I remain troubled by their uncritical acceptance that small farming is sustainable, their use of the term "small family farm," their equivocal definition of the "successor," and their failure to understand the nature and purpose of Gasson and Errington's typology. This brief note offers an opportunity to explore these points, which I hope offers a vehicle through which researchers can continue to engage with, and refine understanding of, the increasingly important topic of intergenerational farm succession.
Steiger et al. begin their discussion by posing the age-old question "why save the family farm" and continue by suggesting there are "at least three reasons to be concerned" (p. 90) about its future, including sustainability, food security, and demographics....
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