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Senior Advisor

New Typology For What Is A Family Farm

If you weren't sure who you were or didn't like, check again.  ERS has changed the numbers a little.  But, never fear, the family farmer is still king.

 

"Three features stand out in the data on farms. First, small family farms make up 91 percent of all U.S. farms and operate on 55 percent of all U.S. farmland. Second, production is concentrated among midsize (25 percent) and larger family farms (34 percent), although these farms make up only 7 percent of all farms. Third, farming is still an industry of family businesses. Ninety-eight percent of farms are family farms, and they account for 88 percent of production."

 

http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2013-may/the-revised-ers-farm-typology-classifying-us-farms-to-r...

 

 

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Honored Advisor

Re: New Typology For What Is A Family Farm

How would these numbers fall if the absentee owners who rent out their land to "operators" and do not manage production, but do recieve a crop share rent, were removed .

Under usda rules a quarter of dry land with 8 heirs recieving a share of crop----- with a operator manager----- composes 9 different farmers.  If that operator farms for 43 different owners ----------- usda says there are 44 farms, when in fact only one entity owns a tractor, combine, and one farmer actually plants anything.

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Point is the numbers are grossly distorted by the way usda defines an entity or a farm.  This example does not represent anywhere I have been.  

How wonderful the data would look if we defined a family farm by everyone who owns a cat or a dog, since they are livestock.

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Honored Advisor

Re: New Typology For What Is A Family Farm

From usda's chart it is easy to see that over 60% of what they call farms do not generate enough income to live without outside assistance. 

Almost 85.7% of what usda considers farms produce less than 16.5% of the value of total production.  

 

While the remainder of 14.3% of the total farms produce 83.5% of the value of production.

 

 

"Third, farming is still an industry of family businesses. Ninety-eight percent of farms are family farms, and they account for 88 percent of production."  ------- from the article.  Their own data shows differently

 

If that is true--------- Cargill is a family business.  And Apple since it is owned by investors with families.

 

 

Please answer--------- Why is it so important for USDA to spin the data to show that we are still living in the 1950's in agriculture?

 

 

 

 

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Senior Advisor

Re: New Typology For What Is A Family Farm

Because family farms sound like it is a handshake business with everyone contributing from the same family. If they jockey the info and numbers to make it sound like it is a more corporate operation, that handshake agreement takes a whole different attitude. Corporate businesses are like canabals, it is a "Kill or be Killed Industry". Giving the public the impression we are mostly families, makes it that much more eye appealing to the uninformed. Just my opinion. I probably didn't do a good job of explaining it, but I think you get my point.
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Veteran Contributor

Re: New Typology For What Is A Family Farm

What do you mean about corporate Canabals "Kill or be Killed Industry" I know of no person who would do business with a handshake, except on The Andy Grifith Show. As far as family farms go maybe in a few places most of the family farms I know are just business's. But i'd be real interested by your comments on Corporate farms involving family members. Just another way for the lawyers to make money. They make the rules so families will fight. 

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Honored Advisor

Re: New Typology For What Is A Family Farm

Not to split hairs, but dogs are typically defined as companion animals. Cats may get that designation, or may be deemed feral animals. Huge legal differences.

Equines are getting special treatment in some counties here in NC, with minimum acres per animal required to keep them. Here, we can have whatever we want on any size parcel, but If you use them commercially - teach a single riding lesson, for instance - a conditional use permit is required under zoning ordinance.

Livestock falls into another whole category, legally. Most often, when mentioned at all, it is in restrictive covenants in subdivisions deeds and conditions. This does not begin to address the phenomenon of urban chickens ( which are never roosters).

I have heard enough times that we are not a family farm, because we raise pigs that belong to an integrator. The fact that we do other activities in farming, unrelated to the swine operation, never seems sufficient to make people want to admit that this is a family farm.

More people want to claim that they have farms and are farmers, in order to qualify for tax and zoning exemptions. That abuse irks me to no end.

You can have a family farm without having a family, too. Perfectly legitimate.
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Honored Advisor

Re: New Typology For What Is A Family Farm

Imo---------- Usda uses the "family farm" term because usda is self serving for the most part. Preserving government jobs.   It is a "feel good" PR issue.  It got a lot of press in the 1980's when many farmers used the term to plead for government bailouts, but that is the last time for farmers.  Usda has owned the term ever since.

 

The continuing migration of population from rural to urban continues as it has for 70 years.(look at the number of foreign temps and illegals working of farms--there is a reason, and eventually usda will redefine farm workers as farmers)

 When the loss of population starts to show up in the usda data, terms like "farm" get redefined so it doesn't look like we have a big government agency serving such a small part of the population.  The realm of government agencies vying for control over public service programs is what I would call a "dog eat dog Industry".  I never have forgotten the number of government agencies (state & federal) that competed for some control of the CRP program when it first was implemented.  They were right, that cash cow had long legs.  Has it made 30 years yet??

Smiley Happy

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Honored Advisor

Re: New Typology For What Is A Family Farm

Your right Kay,

 

The dog example was a poor one------------ I thought about a garden for an example,  but i think usda has already done that. Smiley Happy

 

 

Good to here from u.

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Senior Contributor

Re: New Typology For What Is A Family Farm

In Iowa, there is a huge misconception from the City People that "Factory Farms, Industrial, or Corporate Farms" own most of Iowa's 26 Million acres of farmland. These city people today think that an Iowa family farm operation should only be 160 acres of corn, 50 pigs, 25 chickens, and 1 Dairy Cow. They feel that any Iowa farm that doesn't meet this standard is not a "Family Farm". I think it is our duty as farmers, that when city people ask us if we are family farmers to tell them that very few farms only raise 160 acres of corn, a 1,000 acres or more is needed to support just one Farm Family today. For some reason they feel that farming a 1,000 acres of corn makes you a "Factory Farm". And don't ask me why City People feel this way, I have no idea why.

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Honored Advisor

Re: New Typology For What Is A Family Farm

A corporation is only as good as the worst person with enough power to direct its activities. It is only prudent for families to look to forms of organization that best fit their needs for management, taxes, succession, risk management, etc.
A handshake arrangement is no better than the worse one of the two doing the shaking. I have seen those, and family agreements as well, get butt-uglier than any corporation would dare to be...and, I have dealt with some doozies in the corporate world. Nobody can screw you over the way family can....
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