Mostly Good News About Family Farms

Farmgate, one of my daily reads, reports mostly good news about the condition of family farms.

According to the 2005 Family Farm Report, most U.S. farms – 98 percent in 2003 – are family farms, defined as “operations organized as proprietorships, partnerships, or family corporations that do not have hired mangers.”

While small farms with annual sales of less than $10,000, very large farms, and non-family farms have increased in number, the number of small farms with annual sales between $10,000 and $249,999, which is where most farmers I know fall, declined.

The report also confirmed what anyone with significant farming exposure already knows:

“Small-farm households typically receive substantial off-farm income and do not rely primarily on the farms for their livelihood. Most off-farm income is from earned sources, either wage-and-salary jobs or self-employment.”

While not an entirely rosy picture, it is reassuring to read that the family farm is still alive and somewhat well in the country that has eaten at its table for hundreds of years.