How Do You Define A Family Farm?

I wrote this story (it appeared in the Jan. 8 print issue of Agweek) that looked at a report on family farms from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

The report, it seems to me, is straightforward and contains few, if any, surprises to anyone familiar with Upper Midwest agriculture.

But there are critics who will question the report’s definition of a family farm as “one where the majority of the business is owned by the principal operator ā€” the person most responsible for running the farm ā€” and individuals related to the operator.” (Personally, I think it’s a realistic and appropriately elastic definition.)

The critics say there should be restrictions on a farm’s size: its employees, sales, profits or acreage — and that a farm exceeding size restrictions isn’t really a family farm.

Your thoughts?

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