Chicken Coop Chatter©
Out of 313,000,000 registered citizens in this country, only 1% are farmers, feeding an entire nation. Only 2% of the population actually live on farms. Of those percentages, only 45% claimed farming as their principal occupation, while about the same number claimed an additional occupation. There are approximately 2.2 million family farms in this country. Of those two million farms, a mere 187,816 accounted for 65% of all sales in this country. Twenty years ago, 25% of the population were farmers producing food for the entire nation.
The definition set by the U.S. Census, *a farm is any establishment which produced and sold,or normally would have produced and sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the year*. This includes any government subsidies.
The average expense of farm production is $109,359 annually, yet the income is $50,000 or less annually, which is not a living wage. Only 1 in 4 farms produce more than $50,000 gross revenue.
Approximately 87% of farms are owned and operated by families or individuals. We are not talking about large industrial operations. These are farmers living off the land and supplying the country with their agriculture products. In spite of common belief, corporate farms are nearly all family owned and have incorporated for the purpose of tax breaks and legal benefits. Corporate farm does not mean *large, multi-national* enterprise, and the family owned corporate farm only makes up 4% of all the farms, while multi-national corporation represent only 1% of the farms/ranches in this country.
The census reports in 1935 indicated 6.8 million farms in this nation, while the population was about one-third the current population. Though the average number of farms has declined, the demands have increased. The demands have been met through the implementation of more efficient farm equipment, and other controls implemented.
The average age of the farmer has risen about 10% since 1969 according to the U.S. Department of Labor. With approximately 60% of farmers 55 years and older. In Oregon, the average farmer (as of 2013 statistics) is 70 years old, much higher than the national average.
When asked what an economically viable farm might be, Purdue experts replied: *An economically viable crop/livestock operation in the Corn Belt, would have 2-3,000 acres of row crops and between 5 and 600 sows.*
I find some of these statistics very alarming, and in the past few years, a drive through our Northwest countryside has seen the farms disappearing in lieu of large grape vineyards, landscape shrubs and housing. It's become difficult to find the actual food farmers in our Willamette valley, which I find very frightening. Developers and politicians are very, very short sighted when it comes to policy making for the future. People must start taking an active roll in this policy making and no longer take a passive attitude toward the belief that the political leaders are doing the best for this country or its people.
With these statistics in mind, embrace your local farmers and farmers markets. If this trend continues, the repercussions will be felt in ways we cannot imagine in a country that has been the land of plenty and model to all other nations. Encourage your children to be involved in the 4H and FFA organizations and to attend the agriculture universities that exist in every state of this nation. Grow gardens, raise chickens for the meat and eggs, to secure your own source of food. We need to take steps now to ensure we have farmers long into the future.
For further research visit these sites:
U.S. USDA. NASS. 2007 Census of Agriculture. N.p., 10 Dec. 2009. Web. <http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2007/Full_Report/usv1.pdf>.
U.S. USDA. NASS. 2007 Census of Agriculture Farm Numbers. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2007/Online_Highlights/Fact_Sheets/Farm_Numbers/farm_numbers.pdf>.
U.S. USDA. ERS. U.S. and State Farm Income and Wealth Statistics. N.p., Feb. 2013. Web. <http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/farm-income-and-wealth-statistics.aspx#.UV2u0JMX-w5>.
U.S. USDA. ERS. Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: Family Farm Report, 2007 Edition / EIB-24. N.p., 2007. Web. <http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/201435/eib24c_1_.pdf>.
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