What is in this article?:
• In agriculture I believe it takes all kinds of farms to make a healthy industry: big ones, little ones, in-between ones.
• Yet today many people argue passionately for one kind of farm over another. I always wonder why we think we have to choose.
This column comes with a warning: Reading it could cause the song “A Place in the Choir” to lodge in your brain and stick there. Just ask my proofreader.
You probably remember the song from your childhood: “All God’s critters got a place in the choir. Some sing low and some sing higher. Some sing out loud from the telephone wire. And some just clap their hands or paws or anything they’ve got now.” The point is that it takes high voices and low, singers as well as clappers, to make a choir.
In agriculture I believe it takes all kinds of farms to make a healthy industry: big ones, little ones, in-between ones. Yet today many people argue passionately for one kind of farm over another. I always wonder why we think we have to choose. Let’s take a look at the debate and see if it really deserves credence.
In round numbers, we have around 2.1 million farms in America. Approximately 120,000 of those generate about 75 percent of the total agricultural output. The remaining two million farms are responsible for 25 percent of output.
I believe it is safe to say that the 120,000 farms with the greatest output qualify as large farms. Simply put, from large farms come large quantities of food, enough food that every farmer in America feeds not only himself and his family but 155 additional people around the world.
Today some people have the opinion that all large farms are bad. They often call them “corporate farms” and see them as evil. Yet 90 percent of America’s so-called corporate farms are still family owned and operated; the families have just incorporated. Far from being evil, large farms truly represent the great American success story.