No surprise here.
USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) recently released an economic bulletin on family farms that shows we account for 99 percent of all farms and generated 89 percent of production in 2015.
The farm typology, or classification, developed by ERS primarily focuses on the “family farm” or any farm where the majority of the business is owned by the operator and the individuals related to that operator. USDA defines a farm as any place that produced and sold – or normally would have produced and sold – at least $1,000 of agricultural products during a given year. USDA uses acres of crops and head of livestock to determine if a place with sales of less than $1,000 could normally produce and sell that amount. Farm size is measured by gross cash farm income, a measure of the farm’s revenue that includes sales of crops and livestock, government payments, and other farm-related income, including fees from production contracts.
U.S. family farms are the backbone of the greatest food production system in the world and the strongest economy. It is time that consumers understand the true value of this system and what it means to the success of our nation and our national security.
There are many who want to discount this fact and say family farming is outdated and something of the past. But maybe they have an economic interest that is better served, selfishly, by other economic models or their own economic goals.
As you attend meetings and conferences this winter, listen to the introductions of farmers and ranchers. When they describe themselves, they almost always highlight that they have a family farm or ranch operation – and they should. Family farming is an honorable profession that creates new wealth. At a recent regional cooperative annual meeting I attended, I was amazed at how many people described their operation in that way, “We are a family farm (or ranch).”
It’s easy to forget that U.S. family farmers and ranchers are experts at what we do and at maintaining food abundance for the citizens of this great nation and many countries around the world. We are stewards of the land and the environment, we adopt technology, we train the next generation of farmers, we support communities, and we provide feed and habitat for wildlife.
Family farmers and ranchers, please continue to be proud to tell your story. Consumers support and trust you. We are the economic backbone of society. It is time to stop the rhetoric that corporate agriculture is a better approach. Ninety-nine percent of U.S. producers are family farms and we are the greatest food-producing nation in the world. The proof is in the pudding.
– NDFU President Mark Watne