Whether you are in the ag lending business or not, you hear a lot about the family farm these days. By all accounts in mainstream media, the family farm concept is disappearing fast, in hot water or going the way of the dinosaur. However, in reality, many of us live and work on a family farm, and we’re pretty sure we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon! Essentially, family farms represent the backbone of agriculture, and ag, in turn, is one of the driving industries of the country.
If you look at facts and figures, a few truths emerge about the family farm. Thanks to the folks at the USDA, the 2012 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology has put together five things that you must know about family farms:
- Family farms are numerous and come in all sizes. According to the statistics, 97% of the over 2 million farms in America are family farms. However, that doesn’t mean every farm is owned and worked by a nuclear family consisting of a husband, a wife and their children. Family farms can be classified as a variety of business entities, and everyone from siblings, cousins, and adopted individuals are included in the ‘family farm’ designation.
- Many family farms are still small. While the term “family farm” does not designate the size or scope of an operation, the report shows that 88% of all family farms are classified as “small” family farms.
- Small family farms sell directly to the consumer. Everyone likes knowing where their food comes from these days. Since 58% of all direct-to-consumer sales are from small farms, local small farmers are as valuable as an ag-vocating resource as they are for fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables.
- Large family farms matter too! Big family farms pull their weight as well. The numbers show that 64% of all vegetable sales and 66% of all dairy sales come from family farms that are designated as “large” or “very large.”
- The opportunities in family farms are numerous. As the average age of the country’s current owners/operators edges ever upwards— it’s presently at 59 years— more people are needed to fill their roles when they retire. For kids in school to veterans leaving the Armed Forces, there are many organizations offering the ways and means of starting or buying an ag operation. The figures show that 18% of the principle operators of the family farms in the U.S. started in the last 10 years!
At AgAmerica Lending, the nation’s premier land lender, we aim to support America’s family farms. We’re proud to say we help the country’s agribusinesses grow and thrive with farmland financing, our low interest rates, long amortizations, and outstanding 10-year line of credit.