In case you haven’t read it yet, you really should pick up Sunday’s New York Times. The article is entitled “Farm Living (Subsidized by a Job Elsewhere)” and the meat of the article is right here:
Consider that about 900,000 of the nation’s 2.2 million farms generated $2,500 or less in sales in 2007.
By contrast, 5 percent of total farms, about 125,000 operations, accounted for 75 percent of agricultural production.
The new agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, has acknowledged the problem and vowed to do something about it. As a former governor of Iowa, he knows firsthand that farmers with a few hundred acres are being outbid for land by farmers with a few thousand. That consolidation is fueled by farm payments that tend to benefit the largest farms.
The question is: What, if anything, can he do about it?
In an interview on Friday, Mr. Vilsack said the agency would encourage income opportunities — like energy production, carbon sequestration, conservation and ecotourism — that go beyond just crops and livestock. “You have to take a holistic approach and create the understanding that the whole thing is diversification,” he said.
How far have we gotten along the path of diversification? So far, we have had success with Pastured Turkeys, Pastured Pork, Grassfed Belted Galloway, and lots of Chicken Eggs. We are looking to Summer and Fall Vegetables. Will we need to diversify further? Yes. What will it be? I have no idea.
And yes, we all have off-farm jobs to subsidize our farming efforts.