In this paper, we study how agricultural policy, and particularly how scale increase, has been framed by the responsible ministers over the last six decades. We analyse the different interpretations attached to scale increase and other policy issues, in a longitudinal study of the memoranda accompanying the yearly national budget for the Ministry of Agriculture. Our analysis provides a nuanced explanation for the continuous use of the contested concept of scale increase. We show that the framing of Dutch agricultural policy has undergone considerable changes regarding issues and solutions, the role of international policy and issues from other policy domains. We find that the policy and the policy frames have become more diverse, interdependencies have increased and as a result policy has become more complex and self-referential. Part of our findings can be explained as the occurrence of a paradigm shift. However this does not explain the continuous presence of the logic of scale increase as the way forward for Dutch agriculture. We state that the self-referential agricultural policy system has aimed to continuously improve itself by means of scale increase, without discussing or critically reflecting on the functioning of the system itself. In this process language played a powerful role: changing the language helped to maintain the existing system or paradigm in which scale increase is continuously positively framed as the solution for Dutch agriculture.