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Family Farms Vs. The Government Essay

2039 words - 9 pages

Agriculture has always been and always will be a part of society, but do the people outside of the agriculture community know anything about the farms and the regulations of farms of today’s world? The federal government should support the family farms of today rather than the industrial side of agriculture.
In 1930 there was around seven million farms in the United States, now there is about two million. Advocates for farming and agriculture are worried about losing farms and farmland (Wirtz, 1999, 6). The total number of farms has fallen dramatically since the 1930s, but the number of larger farms has grown. Today, small farms make up 92 percent of all U.S. farms and the other eight ...view middle of the document...

Farms can be organized multiple ways; family and nonfamily farms, types of family farms, type of production or outputs, and size of family farms. Farm classification focuses more on family farms, which make up 97 percent of all farms, but includes nonfamily farms as well (United States 2014, April 22). Farms that are owned and run by families are identified as family farms (Borman, 2007, 30). Family farms can be arranged three ways: proprietorships, partnerships, or family corporations, whereas nonfamily farms are either cooperatives or nonfamily corporations. All farms have their own characteristics, just like people, and have a very wide range, starting with small retirement and residential farms to big establishments with sales in the millions (United States 2014, April 22).
The Economic Research Service (ERS) of the USDA classifies small family farms into five different categories; “limited resource farms, retirement farms, residential/lifestyle farms, farming occupation/low-sales farms, and farming occupation/high-sales farms (United States 2014, April 22).” Small farms are under some of the greatest pressure from the world and outside factors, but there are more of the small farms than the large farms (Wirtz, 1999, 6). The most popular types of small family farms are retirement farms, off-farm occupations and farming-occupation farms. Retirement farms are defined as small farms whose operators are retired yet continue to farm. Off-farm occupation farms have operators who have a primary occupation outside of farming. Farming-occupation farms have operators whose primary occupation is farming. Family farms can sell their products for a lower price but in doing so they lose money (source A). Then they have to rely on off the farm income because they are less profitable (United States 2014, April 22).
If principal operator of the farm and the people who are related work on and own most of the farm, then it is a family farm (MacDonald, 2014, 1). Many farmers inherit their farms from their parents or family and generally pass or give the farm to their own children, but more often the children do not wish to continue farming. Family farming is better than the corporate farms in terms of sustainability because “family farming creates certain values and work ethic that corporate farming just can’t have (K-State, 2009).” The slogan and idea of “save the family farm” can be found just about anywhere, but do the family farms really need saving (Wirtz, 1999, 6)? Most people think that because farms are getting bigger, family farms do not exist, even though family owned farms constitute about 99 percent of all U.S. farms. Along with this thinking they also believe that a small family farm only consists of a couple hundred acres (Wirtz, 1999, 6). Not only is this perception incorrect it has become very common in today’s world.
The remaining one to three percent of farms are partnerships or corporate farms, which generally are owned by families but not...

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