Monday, February 09, 2009
The number of farms in the US has increased 4% in the last five years according to the USDA's recently released farm survey (2002-2007), though most farmer's income is actually coming from other jobs (65% of farmers have other primary sources of income, vs. 55% in 2002). The small and mid-size farmers are still at a huge disadvantage because farm subsidy payments are made per acre, says FarmPolicy.com (via Amber Waves).
I did find it encouraging that in this NY Times article about the survey release Secretary of Ag Vilsack says he wants to work to create new market opportunities for small farmers! “There’s real opportunities to create a new rural economy."
And then there is this scary map from the survey that shows the decrease of land that is being used agriculturally... That's another issue altogether. In the previously mentioned NY Times article Amy Bacigalupo, program organizer for the Farm Beginnings program in Minnesota, tells Andrew Martin that the costs of land and health care are major obstacles for most would-be farmers.