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Old 07-25-2009, 07:12 AM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,157,970 times
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I was talking to the Assistant State of Maine District Conservationist and she brought up the issue of getting rid of adjectives in farming...that is getting rid of the terms Small Farm and Mega-Farm.

Overall I think she is onto something. As she describes there seems to be this automatic response that small farms get this quaint, family orientated type overview, even though a larger farm that has 12,000 acres of active farming can indeed be more of a family farm then a CSA. At the same time the larger farms (as I found out myself) get this instant idea that a farm with goats or sheep are mere stumbling blocks to their operations, even though I know several farms that have 600 sheep or more.

I think the better farmers (small and large alike) agree that to be truly successful, you need successors and that means a mixture of small, medium sized and large farms need to exist in 2009 in order to feed this great nation...and world. But while her idea of getting rid of the farming adjectives was sound, she admitted that it would never happen...to many entrenched on each side to actually drop it from the vocabulary.

Myself I am going to try to do my part and drop the adjectives from my postings on here, and in my dealings with farm life. I encourage others to do likewise. But the question remains, do you think it is possible for small and large farmers alike to unite with this idea and drop the adjectives, and as a group how can we make the distinction between farms without influencing our posts with farm size? [SIZE=1]
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Old 07-25-2009, 08:53 AM
 
Location: Democratic Peoples Republic of Redneckistan
11,102 posts, read 13,354,135 times
Reputation: 3926
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrokenTap View Post
I was talking to the Assistant State of Maine District Conservationist and she brought up the issue of getting rid of adjectives in farming...that is getting rid of the terms Small Farm and Mega-Farm.

Overall I think she is onto something. As she describes there seems to be this automatic response that small farms get this quaint, family orientated type overview, even though a larger farm that has 12,000 acres of active farming can indeed be more of a family farm then a CSA. At the same time the larger farms (as I found out myself) get this instant idea that a farm with goats or sheep are mere stumbling blocks to their operations, even though I know several farms that have 600 sheep or more.

I think the better farmers (small and large alike) agree that to be truly successful, you need successors and that means a mixture of small, medium sized and large farms need to exist in 2009 in order to feed this great nation...and world. But while her idea of getting rid of the farming adjectives was sound, she admitted that it would never happen...to many entrenched on each side to actually drop it from the vocabulary.

Myself I am going to try to do my part and drop the adjectives from my postings on here, and in my dealings with farm life. I encourage others to do likewise. But the question remains, do you think it is possible for small and large farmers alike to unite with this idea and drop the adjectives, and as a group how can we make the distinction between farms without influencing our posts with farm size? [SIZE=1][/SIZE]
[SIZE=1][/SIZE]
I don't think it will ever happen...IMO there are so many smaller farmers disgusted with the corporate farms and their hogging of subsidies and to much disdain of the smaller farmers by the corporate farmers.....it's like every other occupation,the big guy looks down his nose at the little guy and the little guy is gunning for the big guys job.

I think it's here to stay and is WAY to deeply ingrained to ever stand the remotest chance of changing.JMO
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Old 07-25-2009, 11:17 PM
 
Location: North Adams, MA
746 posts, read 3,205,679 times
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Trying to muddy the waters by limiting adjectives to describe a farm or types of farms sounds like some pr type going crazy and trying to confuse the public. A small dairy farm with 60 Holsteins is small. An industrial farming operation with 25,000 acres of corn or 100,000 hogs is an industrial farming operation.

Accurate words and descriptions are the friends of people who want to think for themselves, make accurate judgements and understand the issues. Throwing all farmers into one humongous category is how bad laws are snuck onto the books.
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Old 07-26-2009, 06:03 AM
 
9,807 posts, read 13,682,398 times
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I would ask that govt employee in Maine why the Federal govt sends out a census form to farmers, that is as thick as a small bible, if they don't want to use the info to distinguish between different types of farms,

I also think the govt should learn to read, before they mis-use adjectives.

They call it a Farm bill---------- yet 67& of the expenditures go to non-farmers ( food aid)


They now have USDA ( United States Department of Agriculture) admistering house loans to non-farmers in designated areas.

Perhaps its time for the govt to understand adjectives and know there is a difference between rural and agriculture.

heck, you don't even have to plant a garden to be eligible for a house loan administered from the United States Department of Agriculture .
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Old 07-26-2009, 06:11 AM
 
Location: Democratic Peoples Republic of Redneckistan
11,102 posts, read 13,354,135 times
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GOOD POSTS!! I'm outta rep right now or I would have hit you guys
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:34 AM
 
263 posts, read 670,129 times
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i always use the words small and family to describe our farm, but i generally string together as many adjectives as i can before stopping to take a breath...
we have two, certified organic, diversified, small family centennial farms. we farm for a living, but i would never just say that we have a "farm".
we are small because we have 200 acres which consists of my family farm and my husband's. we are certified organic because for the past twenty years we have jumped through the hoops and filled out the paperwork and been inspected and paid our fees. we are family because all the work is done by family members. we are diversified because we raise field crops of grains and beans, vegetables, pastured chickens for meat and eggs, pigs, and a few dairy cattle. we sell added-value farm products like stone-ground flour and brick-oven breads. almost everything we grow is sold locally, by family members, at farmers markets year-round.
farms cannot be lumped together under the name farm. 200 years ago maybe, but not today. that would be like lumping (gasp) my artisanal breads in the same basket with that stuff from the store.....
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Old 07-28-2009, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Eastern Washington
14,719 posts, read 45,819,453 times
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I don't think anyone will quit saying "small" and "large" but I do take your point that farmers in general - from the King Ranch to my 13 acres of pasture - need to recognize our common interests and work together rather than throw rocks at each other.

At the same time there are some people out there who do farm but don't do a good job of it - for whatever reason - don't keep their fences up so their bull comes a calling where he's not wanted...overdo the irrigation water and generate muddy runoff - etc. How to deal with people like this...I mean if I wanted to tell my neighbor how to run his outfit I would have bought a McMansion and get on the HOA board...

That said some animal confinement operations - is that really a farm? Or is it more like a farm animal gulag? At the same time realizing this is the most cost-effective way to make meat, even though it's not at all pretty.

I guess I have more questions than answers today.
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Old 07-28-2009, 07:34 PM
 
Location: Democratic Peoples Republic of Redneckistan
11,102 posts, read 13,354,135 times
Reputation: 3926
Quote:
Originally Posted by M3 Mitch View Post
I don't think anyone will quit saying "small" and "large" but I do take your point that farmers in general - from the King Ranch to my 13 acres of pasture - need to recognize our common interests and work together rather than throw rocks at each other.

At the same time there are some people out there who do farm but don't do a good job of it - for whatever reason - don't keep their fences up so their bull comes a calling where he's not wanted...overdo the irrigation water and generate muddy runoff - etc. How to deal with people like this...I mean if I wanted to tell my neighbor how to run his outfit I would have bought a McMansion and get on the HOA board...

That said some animal confinement operations - is that really a farm? Or is it more like a farm animal gulag? At the same time realizing this is the most cost-effective way to make meat, even though it's not at all pretty.

I guess I have more questions than answers today.
I hauled cattle long distance for quite a spell and I know what you are saying,it's a NASTY,but essential business.
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:10 AM
 
1,297 posts, read 3,157,970 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebreadlady View Post
i always use the words small and family to describe our farm, but i generally string together as many adjectives as i can before stopping to take a breath...
we have two, certified organic, diversified, small family centennial farms. we farm for a living, but i would never just say that we have a "farm".
we are small because we have 200 acres which consists of my family farm and my husband's. we are certified organic because for the past twenty years we have jumped through the hoops and filled out the paperwork and been inspected and paid our fees. we are family because all the work is done by family members. we are diversified because we raise field crops of grains and beans, vegetables, pastured chickens for meat and eggs, pigs, and a few dairy cattle. we sell added-value farm products like stone-ground flour and brick-oven breads. almost everything we grow is sold locally, by family members, at farmers markets year-round.
farms cannot be lumped together under the name farm. 200 years ago maybe, but not today. that would be like lumping (gasp) my artisanal breads in the same basket with that stuff from the store.....
I understand, and I certainly do not want to sound like I am trying to take your thunder away, but with the exception of organic certification, we can make those same claims. We are indeed family owned, and have heritage and roots that go back 252 years here, and back to the Mayflower before arriving here. In so many ways we are a small, family farm too...

But people get caught up on the number of cows. They are over 1000 on the big farm, 125 on the mid sized farm, and only 30 on the small farm...so we are not as big as say California farms where they may have 5000 cows in a single farm.

I have posted my heart out on small farms and how I try to help them out, and I think 99% of the big farmers know we need small farms today, but what I do not see is small farms recognizing that we need big farms as well.

Maine is unique in that we have the most organic farms per capita, and the most access to organic food in the nation, and yet the statistics are pretty sad. Despite 100% organic growth since 2002, they are at 3% of the food produced in Maine. Conventional farms make up 97%. That kind of shows that while organic is gaining...well people are buying conventional food so yes we need big farms as well (not that small farms are all organic, or vice versa that big farms are conventional per se).

As someone else said...we all need to get along, but it seems to me that small farmers have the bigger need for education in this dept. I am not sure if it is overall size jealousy or what. I do know that when we are in a feed crunch like we are this year, the little farmers and homesteaders plead for feed from the bigger farmners who tend to bail them out. There is nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it seems the people that complain about the big farmers the most, are the first ones to run to them when things on their own farms go south.

How can I do a better job of letting the small farmer know that we (as society) need big farms as much as we need little farms?

Diversity is a very good thing...
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Old 07-31-2009, 10:01 AM
 
263 posts, read 670,129 times
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what we have really lost in this part of the country are the medium sized farms. maybe if they were still here, they would be a buffer between the small and the large farmers.
in a perfect world, there would not be so much difference between the way 30 cows are handled and the way 300 or a thousand plus are. but there is, and the differences are huge.
i agree that calling a farm small does not guarantee the quality of the products created there. but, when something comes from a large or mega-farm, to me the flags go up that i need to check into how they grow things there.
the small farms i see are very productive. i'm sure they produce as much per acre as the big boys. it wouldn't hurt my feelings to see many more smaller farms and less of the large.
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