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15 May 2011 - Big vs Little - What u Say?

Let me begin by giving you my e-mail address because I really want to hear from you on this subject. It is orion@agbizweek.com.

The subject, the never-ending argument that has probably been going for at least half a century; Big versus Little farms to produce food. Those who say we should keep farms small and family oriented say "This is the way we have fed people for years and we can continue to do it this way."

On the other side of the argument, people say "This year the world population will hit 7-billion people and how do we feed this growing world population by continuing to farm the way our grandfather or great-grandfather farmed? In order to afford and get return on investment in the equipment we need to produce food today, we need to add more acres to our farm or ranch."

I am sure some of you will be upset and strongly disagree with some statements I am going to share with you from Gary Taylor, retired from Cargill and now running an agricultural management firm. He spoke at the DTN Progressive Farmer Annual Ag Summit in December.

Mr. Taylor sees the scale in agriculture getting bigger and bigger. He said "We’ll see fewer farms with less than 3,000 acres and the trend will likely be to 15,000 and 20,000 acre farms over the next decade and we will probably see several that will be much larger."

According to his comments, over 80,000 farmers are currently farming 2,000 acres or more with the average among those operations at 6,100 acres. He said the trend to getting bigger will continue. In the minds of many people "big" equates to corporation farming and that’s probably true. But 95% of the corporations will be family corporations, not non-farm corporations. I occasionally hear from a farmer who says "We started out as a small family farm; but I guess I am like my neighbors. We all wanted to get bigger and we did and the main reason was to keep it a family farm to allow children to come back and be part of a family corporation."

So, which way do we go? I think we go both ways; I think there is room for both small and large farming operations if they are well managed. We will need them all to feed the world.

But what do you think? Let me hear from you... orion@agbizweek.com.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.