Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Definition of a "Family Farm"

A post at Obamafoodorma on Chuck Hassebrouck's quest to serve in the USDA discusses the National Farmers Union and reads NFU out of the left, including:
Well, it's become a House Divided, as the definition of what, exactly, a family farm is has come under increasing debate. We're talking economies of scale here: A 10,000 acre "family-owned farm" is profoundly different in its capitalization and where it sells crops, in the use of genetically engineered crops, machines, animal confinement, and energy than is, say, a three/four-hundred-acre family farm. A 10,000 acre family farm, despite being "owned" on paper by a single family, is actually Big Ag, when you parse it. NFU, under Buis's leadership, has increasingly leaned towards protecting the interests of huge family farms (thus protecting the interests of Big Ag), toward commodity programs, and has foregone its progressive history.
IMO a family farm is defined as no more than 40 acres of cropland, owned by one family, and operated by one family, with minimal hired help and contracted services (like baling hay), located in upstate NY. More seriously, while a 10,000 acre farm is industrial agriculture, I could conceive it being a family farm, as in owned and operated by one nuclear family, or the families of two siblings.

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