Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Family farms

I was reading an item about water use in Kansas that included this passage:

“We really wrote the paper for the family farmer who wants to pass his land on to his grandchildren knowing that they will have the same opportunities that farmers do today,” Steward said.

At that point, I began wondering - are there family farms any more? Or are all the farms from families named Archer, Daniels, Midland, and Monsanto?

Well, it turns out that family farms are still around:

There are almost two million farms in the USA. About 80% of those are small farms, and a large percentage are family owned.

But are the family farms statistically significant? The U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies farms based on sales rather than size (for reasons explained here), and offers these statistics:

The 2007 Ag Census showed that large and very large family farms produced over 63 percent of the value of all products sold (though they accounted for less than 9 percent of all family farms,) while non-family farms produced approximately 21 percent, and the nearly 2 million small farms and ranches (sales under $250,000) produced approximately 15 percent.
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