27 August 2017 - What is a Family Farm?

The subject of this week’s Samuelson Sez comes in the form of a question, and a request for your help by providing me with your answer to the question - “What is a Family Farm?”

It is prompted by an article in John Oncken’s recent Agri-Dairy Business Letter, asking that very question that came from a city person who took his family to a June Dairy Month Breakfast on the Farm event. After hearing the dairy farm family refer to their “family farm” several times during their presentation, he wondered . . . ‘What is a family farm?’

The U. S. Department of Agriculture has more than one definition of a farm. According to USDA’s Economic Research Service a farm is any place from which $1,000.00 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the year.

USDA also has its definition of a Family Farm as one in which the majority of the business is owned by the operator and individuals related to the operator by blood, marriage or adoption. Since 2005 that definition has been the USDA definition of a family farm.

The city letter-writer still wasn’t satisfied and went on to ask -
“ Farmers and ranchers must have to borrow a lot of money. Who provides the money and does the provider of money also provide management advice that would then make it a corporate farm?

Agricultural lenders were quick to respond, saying they do not ever manage the farm because lender liability would be a major issue and they don’t have the time or the expertise to be a farm manager.

So that brings us back to the question . . . “What is a family farm?” Is it a 25,000 farrow-to-finish hog operation in Iowa or is it a vegetable garden farm in New Jersey that sells more than $1,000.00 worth of products from a roadside stand in the course of a year?

Let me hear your definition of a family farm.

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