During the period of transformation of Poland's economic system an essential change occurred in the level of economic equilibrium in agriculture. Consequently, the rules of the market economy implemented in the fragmented farming sector sharply revealed all the negative effects of the failure to prepare that sector for competition. The situation led to a dramatic income incapacity of the majority of farms. In addition, a considerable number of farms was eliminated from the market.The data on the incomes of farms in 2004 indicate that the greater part of farms failed to achieve the level of income per head equal to remuneration received by the average full-time worker. A comparison of the relation of agricultural net income expressed as a payment received by a person doing a full-time work on a farm with the average net pay in the national economy in 2004 shows that 16 ESU constituted the limit for farms providing pay for work at parity level. The hopes for an improvement in the economic situation of Polish farmers were and are connected with Poland's integration with the European Union and assistance programmes offered within the Common Agricultural Policy. However, the actual effects of that assistance will largely depend on the ability of the farms to absorb the available means.The data from FADN covering the last few years suggest that the economic condition of farms producing goods for the market which operate in the European Union depends not only on the economic effectiveness of production but also on their ability to absorb means offered them owing to the mechanisms of the Common Agricultural Policy.In the programming and implementation of a rational agricultural policy it is necessary to precisely define the beneficiaries of various assistance programmes and this creates an urgent need to formulate a precise definition of a farm.
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