Are Agribusinesses Plowing Under Family Farms?
A picture of ball-capped twin boys standing on a gravel road hangs in the office; hands tucked in their overall pockets and priceless expressions on their youthful faces. The caption on the picture reads, “You been farming long?” Since 1978, this timeless photo taken by Mike Jacobs has immortalized the face of agriculture. Farming has been a crucial part of society since the beginning of civilization. Although agribusinesses help advance the tools needed in farming, poorly built government programs, technology costs, and the cost of living is enabling agribusinesses to drive out family farms.
During the acquisition of land and initial building of the United States, pilgrims learned the art of farming from the Native Americans. The immigrants were shown how to live off of the land, plant crops that flourished and successfully raise livestock. As the foreigners continued to migrate to the west, these practices followed, enabling the growth of the country. In the mid-1800s, agriculture was the leading occupation on the eastern seaboard. The farming spirit spread across the U.S., including the sodbusters and cattlemen of the plains.
Even fifty years ago, farming was still a prominent piece of the American quiltwork. Farmers were often middle to lower class but it was a family affair. Children built their houses on the family acreage and worked with their siblings to carry on the legacy. Just during the last sixty years, the number of farms has decreased from 5.4 million to 2 million (Spitzer). Family farms have been sold into land development or industrial farm corporations.
The sale of farms has affected the ability for rural communities to thrive. Due to the cost of living and farming expenses, many farmers are working in other occupational fields to supplement their income. At the present time, less than one percent of Americans live solely off of their farms. One hundred years ago, forty percent of the United...