Can you trust the people that grow your food to share your values? Meet Carrie Divine. She represents the seventh generation to farm on her family’s land in Morganfield, Kentucky. Carrie grew up on the farm and she’s hoping her kids will have the opportunity to be the eighth generation to carry on the family tradition. To find out more about Carrie and her family farm, click here.
- What is a factory farm?
- The term factory farm is most often used by critics of modern production agriculture. Those critics most frequently label Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) as factory farms.
- The EPA defines CAFOs as facilities where animals are stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period. EPA regulates CAFOs under rules of the Clean Air Act.
- According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, modern animal housing is well ventilated, warm, well lit and clean, and designed to meet specific needs for temperature, light, water and food.
- In the proper location, under careful management and with effective oversight, CAFOs can provide an efficient low-cost source of meat, milk and eggs, says the St. Joseph County Quality of Life committee, made up of both pro-CAFO interests and rural Indiana residents.
- Are family farms dying out?
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports the vast majority of farms and ranches in the United States are family owned and operated – in fact, 96 to 98 percent of the 2.2 million farms in the United States are family farms.
- Data from the last census show the number of non-family corporate farms and their percentage of total sales have remained unchanged for two decades. What’s more, after decades of decline, USDA figures show the number of family farms has actually grown by about 4 percent.
- What qualifies as a family farm?
- USDA classifies family farms as “any farm organized as a sole proprietorship, partnership or family corporation.” Farms that are organized as non-family corporations or cooperatives and farms with hired managers are not included.
- What kind of farm provides most of my meat, grain and produce?
- USDA reports farms with more than $1 million in annual sales are particularly productive and were responsible for 59 percent of production in 2007. About 84 percent of those operations were family farms. Gross annual sales should not be confused with net returns or profit, however. USDA estimates that even a farm with $500,000 in gross sales might expect a 10-15 percent gross margin, and only leave a family with a household income of $50,000 before taxes.
- USDA breaks down the number of farms based on gross annual sales:
- 10 percent of farms have gross sales of more than $250,000 and produce 80 percent of the country’s food and fiber.
- 30 percent have gross sales between $10,000 and $249,000 and produce 18 percent of U.S. food and fiber but are often not full-time farmers.
- 60 percent have gross sales under $10,000 and produce less than 2 percent of food and fiber.