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Ninety-seven percent of US farms are family-owned – from the USDA on March 19th, 2015

Posted on March 17, 2015 by Office of Public Affairs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports that family-owned farms remain the backbone of the agriculture industry. The latest data come from the Census of Agriculture farm typology report and help shine light on the question, “What is a family farm?”

“As we wrap up mining the 6 million data points from the latest Census of Agriculture, we used typology to further explore the demographics of who is farming and ranching today,” said NASS Statistics Division Director Hubert Hamer. “What we found is that family-owned businesses, while very diverse, are at the core of the U.S. agriculture industry. In fact, 97 percent of all U.S. farms are family-owned.”

The 2012 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report is a special data series that primarily focuses on the “family farm.” By definition, a family farm is any farm where the majority of the business is owned by the operator and individuals related to the operator, including through blood, marriage, or adoption. Key highlights from the report include the following five facts about family farms in the United States:

Five Facts to Know about Family Farms

1. Food equals family – 97 percent of the 2.1 million farms in the United States are family-owned operations.

2. Small business matters – 88 percent of all U.S. farms are small family farms.

3. Local connections come in small packages – 58 percent of all direct farm sales to consumers come from small family farms.

4. Big business matters too – 64 percent of all vegetable sales and 66 percent of all dairy sales come from the 3 percent of farms that are large or very large family farms.

5. Farming provides new beginnings – 18 percent of principal operators on family farms in the U.S. started within the last 10 years.

“Whether small or large – on the East Coast, West Coast, or the Midwest – family farms produce food and fiber for people all across the U.S. and the world,” said Hamer. “It’s due in part to information such as this from the Census of Agriculture that we can help show the uniqueness and importance of U.S. agriculture to rural communities, families, and the world.”

The 2012 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report classifies all farms into unique categories based on three criteria: who owns the operation, whether farming is the principal operator’s primary occupation, and gross cash farm cash income (GCFI). Small family farms have GCFI less than $350,000; midsize family farms have GCFI from $350,000 to $999,999; and large family farms have GCFI of $1 million or more. Small farms are further divided based on whether the principal operator works primarily on or off the farm.

To access all the data products from the Census typology report, including Highlights, infographics and maps, visit

Last Alliance Member Meeting – March 23rd on March 17th, 2015


This Old Farm is looking for new Alliance Members in the PORK, BEEF, LAMB, and POULTRY industry, (BEEF-grass-fed, grass-fed/corn finished, PORK-pasture raised, preferably non-GMO feed, will discuss other types of feed). If you are interested in becoming an Alliance Member, and/or know of anyone that has livestock and is interested in providing local restaurants, schools, and wholesale customers your great meat, please have them contact us at 765-324-2161 or email Joshua at, we would love to have your/their Animals!

We have started our 2015 Alliance Members meetings, the next one is March 23rd at 6:00 9.m. at This Old Farm, Inc., and it is for Livestock, please plan to join us! If you have an interest in supplying your livestock and have questions and you can’t make the meeting, please feel free to call in and speak with Joshua.

Standing Out in Your Field – Marketing for Farmers!!!! on March 16th, 2015

We are so thrilled at the positive response we’ve received for our Stand Out in Your Field program. In just a few weeks we’ve received over 50 applications from farmers who want help with their marketing efforts! Through the process we’ve also been honored to read about the incredible stories behind these farms and once again, we’re humbled to be working for such an inspiring group of individuals.

We aren’t done yet! Please forward this email to farmers and beekeepers who you think might be interested in free farm logo design services and/or a farm marketing video. The deadline is March 20. Folks can apply here and/or subscribe to get marketing tips here.

The response from farmers seeking these services has been so tremendously positive that we’ve decided to aim higher and we need your help. Our marketing grant provides funds to create new logos for 40 farms and create 10 marketing videos. If we can raise funds to supplement the grant, we can offer these services to more farmers.

Please help us widen our reach by donating to the Stand Out program!

“I have prayed for so long for someone to help me with these things that take more knowledge and money than we have. May you be blessed for all your efforts.” – Aliza in Fox, Arkansas

“Thank you for this opportunity. It takes a village to raise a local business.” – Jessika in Long Beach, Washington

“I got some great ideas from filling out this application, so for that I thank you!” – Monique in Middleburg, Pennsylvania

We’re also looking for graphic designers who might be interested in creating the logos for the lucky winners! Graphic designers who would enjoy working for farmers should get in touch with us here.
Please consider donating to this effort. Farmers want to be out in their fields, doing what they do best. Help us facilitate their marketing so they can build thriving farm businesses!

Alice Varon
Executive Director
Certified Naturally Grown

Purdue workshops offer producers guidance on food safety on March 16th, 2015

Purdue workshops offer producers guidance on food safety
Fruits and vegetables

Purdue Extension is sponsoring five workshops throughout the state Tuesday (March 17) through April 8 for fruit and vegetable producers to learn how to reduce the risk of contamination by foodborne pathogens in produce.

All of the “Good Agricultural Practices A to Z” programs are free to attend.

Workshops in Adams and Elkhart counties will cover cantaloupe, specifically, while the others will cover food safety in general as it relates to fruit and vegetable production.

Producers growing fruits and vegetables of any variety should find either of the two workshop versions useful.

Local times and locations:

* Adams County: Tuesday (March 17), from 12:30 to 4 p.m. in the 4-H Dining Hall at the Adams County Fairgrounds, 313 W. Jefferson St., Decatur. Contact: 260-724-5322 or

* Elkhart County: March 24, from 12:30 to 4 p.m. in Ag Hall at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds, 17746 County Road 34, Goshen. Contact: 574-533-0554, Ext. 106 or

* Parke County: March 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Parke County Fairgrounds, 1472 U.S. 41, Rockville. Contact: 812-462-3371 or

* Hancock County: March 30 at the Hancock County Extension Office, 802 N. Apple St., Greenfield. Start time not yet decided. Contact: 317-462-1113 or

* Washington County: April 8, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Washington County Extension Office, Suite 104, 806 Martinsburg Road, Salem. Contact: or 812-358-6101.

Registration for the workshops can be found at

The Adams and Park counties programs are sponsored by a grant from Purdue Agricultural Science and Extension for Economic Development, or AgSEED. The others are funded by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture through a U.S Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Block Grant.
By Emma E Hopkins, Student Service – ASC Ag Answers

Local Food Movement is Growing Up! on March 5th, 2015

Farmers sold an estimated $6.1 billion in locally marketed foods in 2012

Recently, there has been a series of media reports suggesting the gangbusters growth in farmers markets is slowing, signaling a plateau in the local food movement. Not so. What we’re seeing is the evolution of the local and regional food movement beyond weekend shopping into something more substantial and sustainable.

In a sense, what we food lovers are observing is a basic lesson in supply and demand.

According to a recent report from USDA’s Economic Research Service, farmers across the country sold an estimated $6.1 billion in locally marketed foods in 2012. This is serious money. More and more of it is coming from sales to retailers, institutions and restaurants rather than through farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs). In other words, the demand side is maturing as businesses pay more attention to what their customers want.

On the supply side, we already know that from 2006 to 2014, the number of American farmers markets jumped 180 percent to 8,260, giving farmers across the country opportunities for robust direct-to-consumer sales. This growth is due, in part, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s significant commitment to local and regional food systems beginning in 2009 under President Barack Obama. Today, these markets give farmers opportunities to grow their businesses and meet the evolving demands of customers and consumers.

One change came through farm-to-school programs. In 2012, more than 4,300 school districts reported spending more than $385 million on local food through farm-to-school programs. In California, there are over 2,600 schools spending more than $51 million on local food.

There are also 760 farmers markets in California and for several years running, the National Restaurant Association has been identifying locally sourced produce, meat and seafood among the top culinary trends.

These numbers show that not only is the local food movement alive and well, it is growing up and becoming a healthy, established part of the broader marketplace.

Therein lies the flaw in the latest reports about farmers markets. As demand for local food grows, so do the supporting businesses. In many cases, restaurants, schools, supermarkets and other institutions are using regional food hubs to move local food from farmers to meet wholesale, retail and institutional needs. There are now more than 135 operational food hubs in our national directory, and 10 are in California.

Where is all this local food coming from and who is producing it? According to the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, more than 163,600 farms were engaged in the local food sector across the country and relying on both direct-to-consumer retail opportunities as well as institutional buyers. So, as farmers expand their reach, options for consumers expand, too, and people have more opportunities to get locally produced food directly from retailers in a variety of settings, including their supermarkets, cafeterias, schools, restaurants and hospitals.

The USDA Census of Agriculture also notes that nearly one of every five American farmers has operated a farm for less than 10 years. These new farmers are innovative, entrepreneurial and creative. They are as diverse as American agriculture itself. They are growing traditional crops and new varieties, organic produce, and heirloom products. They are developing added-value products from sauces to ciders. They are part of row-crop farms and are employing cutting-edge technology. More than ever, they are developing their businesses to meet the demand for locally sourced food.

USDA is investing in these new and beginning farmers by offering the tools and resources they need to succeed, like easier access to capital through microloans, business development training and education, and changes in crop insurance to help manage risk for a wider variety of crops. USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative coordinates our work as the local food market sector continues to grow. In the past two years alone, USDA has made over 500 investments in food hubs, local processing facilities and distribution networks.

As market demands continue to grow and evolve, the local and regional food movement has proven again that the best is yet to come.

Krysta Harden is the deputy secretary of the U.S. Agriculture Department.

Read more here: