Opponents of the agriculture industry, particularly those against livestock, always use the term “factory farm” to scare consumers. What exactly would a ‘factory’ type of farm even look like? Some would picture a dreary place that doesn’t care and that’s certainly not what you’d see on the millions of farms out there. Next time you hear this uninformed term, youse the facts below to straighten the record. Here’s what I see, and what others would too, if they took the time and toured more of these large scale farms:
97% of farms are family-owned, and 75% of farmers live right on the farm where your food is growing. I see kids growing up, learning valuable lessons about life, work, priorities, hardship, and everything else that comes with a profession relying on mother nature. One survey shows that 64% of farmers are generational, taking over the operation from the family members before them. Family is so big that 63% of the agricultural products sold in the U.S. come from large family farms, an additional 15% comes from small farms and ranches. This means less a quarter of the ag products sold in our country come from non-family farms. Agriculture is a family profession.
Over 71% of farmers have been farming for over 10 years. This isn’t a profession you just jump right into and start making millions and then hop to the next big thing. Farming & ranching take hard work, dedication, and most of all, passion. Many farmers are even college-educated, with over 36% having at least a bachelor’s degree and even more with an associate or some type of certificate. These industries take time to build.
3. Small Farms
When I think of factory production, it makes me think big. Factories focus on fast-paced, profit-driven motives, the opposite of agriculture. In fact, 87% of farms in the United States gross less than $250,000 each year, their net profit being substantially less. Majority of farmers take a second job to make ends meet, 62% of farmers worked off the farm according to the last census. Again, these aren’t people raking in profits at the expense of consumers. These are good, hard-working salt of earth people who care and do what they love.
Agriculture is one of the greatest professions with available opportunities. The industry needs are so varied that essentially any one with any type of skill could find a place somewhere in the profession. From people like me, who are speakers and can advocate, to techies who can fly imaging drones over crop fields, to highly skilled pilots that protect the crops that farmers grow, even those engineers working in real factories developing the next line of technology to improve a practice. There is something for everyone in agriculture and the opportunity doesn’t stop at entry-level positions (like they might in a genuine factory).
Most of all, I see passion in the eyes of agriculturalists. These are a group of individuals who genuinely love what they do. Farmers and ranchers love to work the land, tend to their animals, and reap the benefits of truly enjoying their careers. Ag pilots have a passion not found in commercial aviation. Through the struggles, farmers, ag-pilots, and others involved in agriculture are still passionate about their industries, they are committed to feeding, clothing, and fueling the world regardless of the personal sacrifices they may make to do it.
Don’t be fooled by those who paint a gloomy picture of agriculture. “Factory” farms aren’t real. Large farms are a critical part of our food system and while there are many “factories” that are a part of agriculture they certainly aren’t on the farm. The only factories I’ve been in are processing/packing plants, machinery factories, and factories making the very goods you purchase from the grocery store. Get to see the accurate picture of a farm by reaching out to operations near you, I’m sure many of them would love to show you around what a real, non-factory farm is regardless of size or fancy label.