By John Schlageck
Kansas Farm Bureau
It seems that people outside of agriculture routinely try to define the family farm.
These same folks have a tendency to question corporate farming, whether family owned or not. Farm organizations often fall under the same scrutiny. Let's take a look at the family farm. This entity should be based on owner operation. This means the rights and responsibilities of ownership are vested in an entrepreneur who works the farm for a living.
The second key to defining the family farm system would include independence. Independence is defined as financing from within its own resources using family labor, management and intellect to build equity and cash flow that will retire the mortgage, preferably in the lifetime of the owner.
Economic dispersion is the next important step in defining what a family farm would entail. Economic dispersion would include large numbers of efficient-sized farms operating with equal access to competitive markets worldwide.
No family farm would be complete without a family core. This family-centered operation must have a family that lives its life in harmony within the workplace. All family members share responsibilities and the children learn the vocation of their parents.
The ideal family farm would be commercially diversified. Production of diversified commodities would help reduce price risks and maximize the use of farm resources to produce crops and livestock that would, in turn, provide greater self-sufficiency.
One final attribute necessary in defining today's family farm would be the acceptance and use of innovative technology. This would not only enhance farm labor, but also help boost production.
Family farming carries with it a commitment to specific, independent values. These values become a part of the community and include conservation, frugality, responsibility, honesty, dignity in work, neighborliness, self-reliance and concern and care for future generations.
While it is rare indeed that one particular family farm may possess all of these attributes, together they have created a system of agriculture that has been a part of our rural culture since this nation's beginning.
Today, detractors of this profession are making it increasingly difficult for this vital industry to progress and prosper. Maybe they should tend to their business and let farmers and ranchers continue doing what they do best--responsibly producing the healthiest, most abundant food in the world.