3 September 2017

A week ago on Samuelson Sez, I asked a question and I asked for your help in answering the question. The question is - “What is a Family Farm?” I heard from many of you and I am pleased, but not surprised, that at least 90% of you included the word “family” one or more times in your answer.

The shortest definition came from an e-mail address “packersrock”’ (could that be a Green Bay Packers fan?) who said “My idea of a family farm is one that is owned and operated by the family with minimal outside help.”

One of the longer answers came from Eldon Gould who farms in northern Illinois where he produces hogs, corn and soybeans on, what else, the Gould Family Farm. He brings some additional credentials to his response because he served as the Administrator of the USDA Risk Management Agency in the 1980's under Secretary of Agriculture John Block.

His response - “I would say it’s an agricultural entity managed by a family. It could be large or small, crops or livestock. Often larger farms have hired help that do some or all of the work but the family provides direction and management and of course has all the risk associated with any agricultural production.”

“While in Washington, I also questioned why was $1000-gross sales the number to qualify to be a ‘farm’. I was told it was because of the “1819 colleges” prevalent in southern states. As I understand, the “1819 colleges” is a group similar to Land Grant Colleges. The number of “1819 colleges” determines the amount of federal funding available to a particular state (mostly if not all southern). I was also told, in so many words, don’t even think about changing the $1000 threshold as it is so entrenched in southern culture. One more time – ‘follow the money!’

Thank you all for taking the time to share your family farm definitions.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.