Misconceptions About Agriculture: Small Farms are Unimportant and Irrelevant

With the industry of agriculture being the main provider of food and resources for so many millions of people, it can be seen as somewhat of a booming factory industry. Many people tend to believe that the industry of farming is solely factory based, with large-scale operations running like a “conveyer belt” and pumping out good and services with little to no disregard about anything else. With this common misconception, it is hard to imagine why no one would stop to think about the small-scale operation, the little man, who puts in the work and gets no credit. Small farms are seen as unimportant and irrelevant, when in fact that really shouldn’t be the case.

When it comes to he issue of where our food comes from, the question is quite obvious, but we tend to get the idea of that farm confused. Many people seem to believe, as previously stated, that most if not all farms ten to be large factory farms that produce mass amounts of product at a fast pace in order to maximize profit. This is actually not true, and this claim holds no validity whatsoever. To prove this false claim wrong we turn to the United States Department of Agriculture, which states “Ninety-one percent of U.S. farms are classified as small—gross cash farm income (GCFI) of less than $250,000. About 60 percent of these small farms are very small, generating GCFI of less than $10,000.” (www.ers.usda.gov, 2012) So according to the US Department of Agriculture about ninety one percent of our farms here in America are considered to be small farms. With that fact stated, how is it that small farms can be considered to be unimportant or irrelevant? That question can be answered by another misconception of the community of consumers of agricultural goods. Most consumers simply don’t understand where their food is coming from, and since small farms are non-commercialized, they do not here about them at all, which means the only farms that they are aware of are the large commercialized farms that are only a microscopic percentage of farms in America.

Furthermore we look at a specific statistic regarding small farms in agriculture from Cornell University’s website. According to data collected in 2009, “There were 1,921,058 small farms in the US in 2009, which translated to 90.1% of the total farms in the US at that time.” (www.smallfarms.cornell.edu, 2014.) With that said, the point that small farms are unimportant only continues to become further from the truth. Given the fact that small farms make up so many of the farms in America today, they also produce a substantial amount of the agricultural food and services consumed today. So there you have it, another agricultural misconception debunked, and I think its safe to say that America’s agriculture wouldn’t be where it is today with out the little man, the small farm.

Sources: http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/eib-economic-information-bulletin/eib63.aspx

http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/about/statistics-and-information-resources/

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