ON THE FARM: Good timing for International Year of Family Farming

Glenn Ells
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Every time I read a newspaper, it seems, I run into a new set of capital letters. Sometimes the article even tells me what they stand for. For example, FAO is the Food and Agriculture Organization in United Nations.

FAO has proclaimed 2014 the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). They give good reasons for doing this and I want to pass them on.

  1. Family farming is the predominant form of agriculture both in developed and developing countries. There are over 500 million family farms in the world.
  2. Family farmers are an important part of the solution for a world free from poverty and hunger.
  3. Family farming supports sustainable development.

This press release got me thinking about the family farm. It seems that different folks think of a different picture when you speak of family farms. The old picture - which is still in the minds of many - is of a small subsistence farm, where a hard-working family makes a living and raises some stuff to sell. Their main crop is often well-educated and well-adjusted young people that are very employable.  Their picture has changed and now, when I look around at the farms in the county, I see family-controlled farms that are viable business operations are the main economic engine.

The young people from these farms still find it pretty easy to get good jobs.  Fortunately, some of them are challenged to become involved in the family business and will take over someday. Some will start their own businesses and the rural renaissance that the Ivany Report talked about will happen. There has always been the need to go elsewhere for experience and that first job, but I’m convinced that more of those who do will find a way to come back here. We need this energy and vision to keep this Valley ticking.

We have gone through a number of years when farming was considered one of the less-desirable careers and only a few stubborn characters kept at it. Now I sense that the shine has gone off the manufacturing industry and maybe we’ll get “back to basics.”

The International Year of Family Farming has come at a good time.

Organizations: Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations

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