Minnesota Farmer


Farm size matters

I’ve heard it, and I’m sure many others of my farm blog friends have also, the statement “I have nothing against farmers like you, it’s the big farms…”  Little do they realize that many of the comments said about “industrial agriculture” or a number of other titles include smaller farmers too.

Today over 95% of the farms in the U.S. are family owned.  Some of those family owned farms are quite large, and others are smaller.  Some family farms are one person working day to day, and others may employ a large number of workers either seasonally or full time.  They are still family owned.  We all want to use the best technology we can afford.  We all care for the earth.  Some of us use insecticides, fungicides and herbicides that are labelled organic, others do not.  I know of some very small operations that use some really big equipment, and other larger farms that make do with older, smaller equipment.

Farming methods have changed to the point that one person can farm an increasingly larger amount of land or animals.  Modern machinery has removed much of the physical labor and made management more and more important.  Farmers have to be ever more tech savvy, and it is the younger generation that is leading the way.  More tech leads to larger farms and less physical work that makes their job more like the job that their city cousins have.

Families are still the backbone of agriculture.  Farmers raise their families on the land, and teach good work habits.  Farm kids still follow dad and mom or grandpa and grandma around and learn by watching and doing.  There are less kids on the farm, because there is less need for families of all sizes to work the land.  Kids are teaching the new technology of today to the older generation and helping old and young do a better job providing food for all.

The point of this whole rant is that before you go “labeling” a farm as “industrial,” you need to check it out.  I’m betting you will find a loving, caring family at the head of it, a family just like yours.  We may use the most modern science to produce your organic vegetables, or use old machinery  and methods to produce a variety of food you buy in the store, but we all are doing our best at a difficult, complex and highly regulated job.

Michael

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