Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Meet the Corporate Farm

People are increasingly frightened by Agriculture and Ag-related terms they do not understand.

I know people who shudder at the thought of “agri-business” and “the farming industry” and think that the “corporate farm” will be the downfall of Agriculture in this country. 

Uh…no.   Wrong…wrong…wrong.

Ninety-eight percent of farms 
are family farms, and they account for 82 percent of farm production. USDA defines “farm” broadly as any operation with the potential to produce at least $1,000 worth of agricultural goods in a given year. (USDA website)

However, the term "family farm" does not necessarily equate with "small farm"; nor does a "corporate farm" necessarily mean a large-scale operation owned and operated by a multi-national corporation. Many of the country's largest agricultural enterprises are family owned. Likewise, many farm families have formed modest-sized corporations to take advantage of legal and accounting benefits of that type of business enterprise. (EPA website)

When we started the farm, we were advised to incorporate.  Incorporation would keep the tax burden off us as owners and allow us the option to expand our operation someday.  However, things change and life moves on…and we never really followed through on many of our possible plans for growth. 

One fact remains…in the most literal sense of the word…this is a corporate farm. Yeah…us. (seriously) I’ve got the State Corporation Certificate number (and I maintain the paperwork) to prove it. We even have annual shareholder meetings. (I kid you not)

I know---it’s not what you might expect. (but, there are lots of other corporate farms that are very similar)

The Boss is President, poultry manager, marketing director, logistics engineer, driver, laborer, parts and repair director and chief fixer-upper…et cetera.  He holds 50% of the shares.

 I am Secretary, ovine manager, horticultural planner, all-around farmhand, bookkeeper, accountant, social media associate and chief cook and bottle washer…ad infinitum. …and yes, I hold the other 50%.

Most of the folks we know have incorporated their operations for the same reasons that we did all those years ago.  Many (if not all) of those operations are larger than ours and it only makes good business sense.  And for the record, none of these corporate farms are scary entities that are looking to take over the world and destroy Ag as we all know it.  (that’s the problem…most folks do NOT know about Agriculture)

Despite the business structure that farmers may choose to apply to their operation…farms (of all sorts) are dependent upon committed folks…people…willing to work the land, care for the animals and harvest the crops. People that are smart and caring and dedicated to bringing farm products to each of us every day. 

This mis-use of the term “corporate farm” is just one bit of evidence of the dis-connect between America’s field and fork. 

Here’s hoping that we can clarify the situation…one term at a time.

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1 comment:

  1. Interesting Barbara. Similar set up here too. Also we have huge co=operation with our neighbours, exchanging straw and hay and silage, helping with animal housing in the winter, borrowing one another#s equipment etc. That's what makes the farming world go round.