Thursday, April 28, 2005

Decline of the farmer
In face of such a huge crisis, animal health specialists cannot agree on a common strategy and look on helplessly while the army carries out the culling. After six weeks, the Ministry of Agriculture put the number of confirmed cases at 875, and livestock marked for slaughter in the preventive cull stands at 940,000. The lowly farmer can but look on as his perfectly healthy herd is sent away and destroyed.

Strangely enough, England's outspoken animal rights activists who scream when a single fox is hunted down are not so vocal when a million head of livestock are slaughter wholesale.

Equally strange is the fact that regions that do not export meat tend to take the disease in stride. In Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan where foot-and-mouth is deeply rooted, no animals have been slaughtered. No restrictions have been placed on the sale of meat or ban on importing meat or dairy products from other countries with the disease, though a mere 574 pigs have died of foot-and-mouth since April 2000.

Canada's decline:

St. Charles Heritage Center:
During the middle 19th century, over 90% of the country’s men were farmers.

British agriculture:

Farm Incomes

Total income from farming (TIFF) has fallen to its lowest level since entering the Common Agricultural Policy.

In the short-term, financial pressure on farms is the result of a combination of events which have led to the very steep decline in farm incomes since 1996. Farm incomes in the UK are now as low (in real terms) as at any time in the last thirty years . Incomes have fallen by 60% since 1995 (after doubling between 1990 and 1995).

The steep fall in incomes reflects a combination of adverse factors:

An exchange rate which is high by historical standards
Weak world markets in a range of commodities
The effects of the BSE crisis, foot & mouth disease and other food scares

Great Depression decline:
In the 1930s on the Great Plains and in Nebraska, tremendous forces came together to begin a decline in the number of farms that continues today. In 1934, Nebraska recorded 135,000 farms in the state, the highest number since European farmers began moving onto the plains. By 2001, the state had fewer than 58,000 farmers.

Census shows continuing decline in farm numbers:

Mar 4, 2004 12:00 PM
By Hembree Brandon Farm Press Editorial Staff

Preliminary data from the 2002 Census of Agriculture indicate a drop of 86,650 total farms, or 3.9 percent, from 1997 to 2002. All but eight states had fewer farms in 2002.

California had a decline of more than 8,000 farms during the period, says Rich Allen, deputy administrator of programs and products for USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, while Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa each had losses of more than 6,000.

A slight increase in Texas, with 10.7 percent of the total farms in the nation, helped to minimize the percent loss in total U.S. farms, he says. Other states that held steady or increased farm numbers were Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, and Wyoming.

Going back to 1978, the census figures show a drop of nearly 350,000 farms, Allen says, with the biggest declines in the periods 1982-1987 and 1987-1992.

The number of farms with $10,000 and above in sales, which represented nearly 50 percent of the census-adjusted numbers in 1978, has shown “a steady decline” in each subsequent census. Between 1978 and 2002, the number of farms in this sales class declined by 337,132, or 28 percent, with more than a third of that occurring between 1997 and 2002.

Farms in the $10,000 to $99,999 category declined by nearly 425,000, or 43.3 percent, during the 1978-2002 period, while farms with $100,000 or more in sales increased by 86,254, o0r 38.5 percent.

Over the past five years, the number of farms in the top sales class, $500,000 or more, increased by 404, while the $100,000 to $499,999 category declined by 41,276, or 14.8 percent.

The census showed that 20.6 percent of the reporting farms, 427,289, had two or more families sharing net farm income from an operation.

Data tables in the final census for 2002, expected to be released June 3, will include detailed summary information on farm size, types of crops grown, economic sales classes, and many other comparisons, Allen says.

“These data will present the most complete picture of American agriculture at the local level that has been possible in many years.”

A number of changes were made in the 2002 census, compared to previous years, chief among them electronic processing of all the returned forms.

The Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years to collect uniform information on all U.S. farming operations and those involved in production agriculture. It helps, Allen says, to measure changes in production areas and farming practices, as well as trends in the number and size of operations and characteristics of those involved in farming.

“It is not designed to present detailed analyses of production practices or any other aspect of agriculture,” he says. “It will never answer all inquiries about agriculture and the people in agriculture.”
The number of farms like the one begun by Johnson is shrinking, from 5.75 million in 1900 to 1.91 million today (column written in 1999). It is no longer a certainty that farm children will succeed their parents in the fields.

At the turn of the last century, most farms in this country encompassed less than 175 acres; today a typical farm is 487 acres. Meanwhile, farm employment dropped from 9.9 million in 1950 to 2.9 million in 1997. Farm population slipped below 5 million in 1990, census figures show.

His wife, LaDeen, now works off the farm as a school teacher _ a move the family was forced to make after the farm crisis of the 1980s, when some 200,000 to 300,000 farmers went bankrupt, were foreclosed or had their operations financially restructured. High-interest debt on upgraded machinery and expanded acreage overwhelmed farmers hit by falling land values and low commodity prices.
Problem and Components
Policy issue area: Economics
Policy issue: Agriculture
Description: Careless policies of the Federal government are depressing many parts of rural America, causing the loss of large numbers of family farms and associated jobs.
Symptoms: Since 1981 750,000 farms went out of business; 1 million jobs in the rural economy are lost; many more small farmers are threatened with the loss of their farms; extensive psychological damage is caused to many by stress and worry; agribusiness conglomerates damage the soil and groundwater by excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Causes: Government subsidies are being cut, while costs of production are rising; administration policies favor agribusiness and food processor conglomerates; Department of Agriculture policies are no longer supportive of small farmers.
Cost of problem: -

Solution and Components
Resources: Agricultural research institutes; Federal and state governments; family farmers.
1. Save existing family farms, as a valuable component of American society and source of traditional values
2. Encourage young people to reenter farming as a means of production and a way of life.

Program area: Rural development
1. Adopt a Family Farm Act, to help the small farmer
2. Institute a policy of fair prices and supply management of agricultural products
3. Negotiate international trade agreements that will help the marketing of agricultural products at fair prices
4. Create new programs designed to keep land in the possession of families (including debt moratoriums) and encourage the entrance of new families to farming
5. Develop diversification of crops and new markets for farm products.

1. Revise tax system and subsidies so that policies do not favor agribusinesses, tax sheltering, speculation, and other actions that harm the family farm
2. Link farm policy to the monetary and agricultural production environment, both national and global
3. Increase worldwide demand by raising standard of living of the developing nations.
Cost of program: -
Beneficiaries: Family farmers; small rural businesses serving farmers.

Historical highlights:

No comments: