Commercial agriculture can take different forms and there is great variety in how small-scale farmers engage with it. But despite this diversity, farmers often have little control over trading arrangements and commodity prices. They may be trapped in lopsided agreements that can squeeze incomes and make them liable for risks, such as unpredictable weather. These arrangements destabilise livelihoods but are often difficult to change, because value chain terms may be dictated by powerful forces at local to global levels. Policies and programmes designed to support rural producer agency — their ability to make informed choices, take effective action and influence the world around them — must understand and address these structural factors. Drawing on insights from producer associations, development agencies, government bodies, advocates and businesses, we explore how farmers and their communities are being supported to navigate structural factors.