Elsie Wetzel

Farm Ownership

Elsie Wetzel and her husband, Chad, a third-generation farmer, grow corn and wheat on over 7,000 acres in northern Texas. Tour their farm as Elsie discusses family farming in the United States and her own family’s agricultural roots.

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Reputably Sourced Food Facts

Fill up on data-driven food and farming information from resources that know the field. Don’t see your question answered here? Contact us and we’ll help you find the facts you need.

What Is a Family Farm?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) describes a family farm as one in which the majority of the business is owned by the farmer and people related to the farmer, including relatives that do not live in the farmer’s household. 1

  1. http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-economy/farm-household-well-being/glossary.aspx

What Is a Corporate or Factory Farm?

The terms “corporate farm” and “factory farm” are not official titles, but rather labels used by agriculture critics, often to describe concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). CAFOs, as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, are facilities where animals are stabled or confined and fed or maintained for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period. 1

  1. http://www.epa.gov/region07/water/cafo/

Are Non-Family Farms Replacing Family Farms?

The USDA reports the vast majority of farms and ranches in the United States are family owned and operated. In fact, 97 percent of the 2.1 million farms in the United States today are family owned.

In the U.S. and elsewhere, business owners favor the localized knowledge, quick responsiveness and responsibility built into family farms. These factors have defied previous attempts to introduce large complex organizations to U.S. agriculture. 1

  1. http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2014-march/family-farming-in-the-united-states.aspx#.VR10MvzF-So

What Kind of Farm Does Most of Our Food Come From?

According to the USDA, small family farms dominate the total U.S. farm count and occupy more than half of U.S. farmland. Midsize and large-scale family farms grow the majority of the food we eat.

A 2014 report shows that family farms operate 90 percent of our nation’s farmland, and account for 85 percent of the country’s agricultural production value. 1

  1. http://blogs.usda.gov/2015/01/13/u-s-farms-large-and-small/#more-56211