This pic was taken in the fall of 2007, as one of the Maryland farm families who were inducted into Maryland's Agriculture Hall of Fame. So the kids now are all either in high school or have graduated. But this is it, the family who operates the family farm... and it happens to be a corporate farm.
I was researching USDA 2012 Ag Census data for an upcoming webinar I am speaking at on U.S. Agriculture 101. One of the questions I was asked to define was the difference between family farms and corporate farms. As I started looking at the statistics and asking questions of the folks at National Ag Statistics Survey (great guys, very helpful BTW), I was amazed at what I found out!
The 2012 U.S. Agriculture Census data shows:
|Source: U.S. Ag Census Atlas Maps|
Nearly 87% of farms in the U.S. are family owned, usually a sole proprietor, or husband and wife but
with no tax or liability structure for protection
(that's scary in this day of age)
|Source: U.S. 2012 Ag Census Atlas Map|
Another 7% are owned in family partnerships, but does not include family farms operated by
a husband and wife.
That's a total of 95% of U.S farming operations, owned and operated by families....
And here's the doozy.....!!
Source: 2012 U.S Ag Census Atlas Maps
The remaining 5% are those horrible "corporate" farms the media is always slamming.... right?
THOSE are the ones we want to do away with right?
But wait, there's still more.....
I'm one of "THOSE"
Source: U.S. 2012 Ag Census, Table 67
In case that chart is too small, here is the link to the 2012 Ag Census, check it out on Table 67.
Of the 5% that are defined as "corporate",
(you know, those "Farmed and Dangerous" farms that Chipotle slams or those big "industrial" farms run by robots and cartoon scarecrows devoid of all ethical behavior, yeah those)
Corporate farms are defined by USDA as those that are "incorporated under state law".
So this would be an LLC, an S-Corp, or a C-Corp.
So Schmidt Farms Inc meets USDA's definition of a corporate farm when all along we thought we were a just a good old, family farm.
Or maybe there are more of us "good old family farms" than you're being led to believe.
What the census data tells us is: