This study is based on a review of the literature that analyses the repercussions of the principal public policies established for the promotion of the family farming sector in Brazil. In this review, the processes that have contributed to the establishment of these policies are assessed critically, together with their mechanisms and the connections for the evaluation of their contributions to the promotion of sustainable production systems. The review was based on a wide range of sources, including books, journals, and other scientific papers, in particular those published by the principal authors in this field, in addition to the databases of Brazilian governmental institutions. The analysis focuses primarily on the National Program for Strengthening Family Farming (PRONAF), the baseline for all other policies, as well as the recently-established Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Policy (PNATER), and the government food purchasing programmes. Despite advances, a number of important limitations were found, in particular in relation to credit programmes and the Technical Assistance and Rural Extension, for the development of models of sustainable agriculture. Overall, many of the mechanisms found in the policies analyzed are oriented towards conventional production systems, which cause socio-environmental impacts that contradict the goals of sustainable rural development.
Key words: Agro-ecology, rural development, agricultural policy.
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