The criteria for selecting backward agricultural areas used so far were distinguished in the elaboration. Podlaskie region was taken as an example because it was classified as a backward area under these criteria and many factors determining this category are cumulated in the region. However, the analysis of the criteria commonly used for selecting difficult agricultural areas showed that many of them become less and less important for diversifying the agricultural surface. Moreover, cumulation of these factors creates new quality and conditions for efficient and profitable farms well adjusted to the current socio-economic level of the region development. This phenomenon allows researchers to speak about evolution of the criteria used for selecting backward agricultural regions or about need for re-assessment of the criteria in general development process.