Are We Losing Family Farms?
Question: I hear we are losing family farms every day and that large corporations are taking over farming. Is that true?
Answer: As I sit and watch my 18-month-old son play with his tractors (or “broom brooms,” as he calls them), the future of family farms hits close to home. I often hear people say that family farms are dying out, when in fact the opposite is true. According to the USDA Agriculture Census data for 2007, 99 percent of North Carolina farms are family owned.
I think some of the confusion comes because many farms, including ours, have incorporated to take advantage of tax benefits afforded businesses. Our farm name ends with “LLC,” meaning we are a limited liability corporation, but my husband and his father are the owners and decision-makers. Confusion also comes when people hear we have contracted with large companies to buy our agricultural products. Yes, we sign a contract with a company to sell them a certain amount of our crop, but we have a choice to sign that contract and a choice of which company we sign with. We buy our seed from our local distributor, who works for a larger seed company. Again, we as farmers have a choice in who we buy from and what we buy. While we work with a number of large corporations, as anyone in any line of business does, at the end of the day, my husband and his dad are working the land, raising a crop and making decisions that affect the future of our farm.
– Heather Barnes, Wilson County farmer