One of the first criticisms farmers seem to hear from their urban cousins is that corporate farming is bad. This is also one of the largest misunderstandings non-farmers have … corporate farming isn’t at all what they think it is. And it definitely isn’t as prominent as they think.
Check out this blog post to read the Top 5 Myths About Farm Corporations, by family farmer Wanda Patsche.
There seems to be a lot of myths in print and the Internet about farm corporations. First, let’s look at what is a farm corporation? According to the Minnesota Department of Ag, a farm corporation is:
Family farm corporation” means a corporation founded for the purpose of farming and the ownership of agricultural land in which the majority of the stock is held by and the majority of the stockholders are persons, the spouses of persons, or current beneficiaries of one or more family farm trusts in which the trustee holds stock in a family farm corporation, related to each other within the third degree of kindred according to the rules of the civil law, and at least one of the related persons is residing on or actively operating the farm, and none of whose stockholders are corporations
So what are the top 5 myths of farm corporations?
1. Farm corporations are controlled by large corporations.
You may be surprised to know that the vast majority of farm corporations are family farms and are not controlled by large corporations. That’s right, 98% of all farm corporations are owned by farm families.
And we are one.
But you would never know it by looking at our farm. Even though we are a farm corporation, it changes nothing in our day-to-day activities on the farm. We still take care of our animals every day by feeding them, making sure they have water and caring for the sick.
2. Farm corporations are devastating our land, water, and air.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Farmers follow numerous environmental regulations and are strictly regulated by the EPA. We have land setbacks to prevent herbicides from entering the waterways. Soil tests are taken regularly to monitor the soil nutrients. Farmers also need to be certified and recertified to apply pesticides to their farmland.
3. Farm corporations are heavily subsidized by the government.
In all reality, the amount we receive in government subsidies is very small. For example, in the year 2012, the amount of direct payment subsidies our farm corporation received was just a little over 1% of our gross revenues. And more than likely, direct payments will go away with the new farm bill.
4. Monsanto controls farm corporations on what farmers can and cannot grow.
I hear this a lot. And it cannot be further from the truth. We grow whatever crop we want, in the quantities that we want and where we want. Enough said. No, we cannot save our seed from the previous year(s), but we wouldn’t want to. It benefits us to plant quality seed with the best technologies and we get that by purchasing new seed yearly.
It makes no sense for farm corporations to treat their animals in that way. Modern housing is well-ventilated, warm, well-lit, clean, and scientifically-designed to meet an animal’s specific needs – including temperature, light, water, and food. An animal’s well-being is the top priority for any farm corporation.
For more information on farm corporations, here are a few links to other sources of information. One organization is called CommonGround – a site where conversations about farming and food take place.
Also checkout FoodDialogues. Lots of great information! Do you have any specific questions on farm corporations? Please be sure to ask!