NEWSFLASH! This just in! The United Nations has declared 2014 the “INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF FAMILY FARMING.” Now, isn’t that something? My, my, my. This declaration is not just to honor America’s farmers, but farmers all over the world!
Most farms are owned by families. Of the 2.1 million farms in the United States, over 98% are family owned and operated. These are husbands and wives, grandparents, parents, and sons and daughters, all working together to produce our food. Many family operations are incorporated, but only for tax and liability purposes. They’re still family farms.
There are about 500 million family farms across the developing and developed world, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Globally, about 40% of the world’s population are family farms. In the U.S., 1% is involved in farming. Family farms come in all shapes and sizes, from sprawling, multi-generational operations, to a retired couple’s 2 acre plot that provides vegetables for their local farmers’ market.
Family farms are critical to our future food supply. “It is worth celebrating family farming, because it is the model of food production that really feeds the world, while caring for the earth,” says Jose Osaba of World Rural Forum, an association that promotes rural issues. “70% of the world’s food production is provided by family farmers.”
Rural leaders around the globe are taking part in the U.N.’s International Year of Family Farming as a way of recognizing and promoting the contribution family farms make to the world economy, by providing food and jobs. About 42 countries will be participating in the celebration.
Those 99% of us who are not involved in food production are able to live our active lives as a result of the 1% farmers who grow our food.
If you happen upon a farmer today, this week, this month or this year, say “THANK YOU FOR GROWING MY FOOD!” and honor him or her this year.
Capital Press, January 17, 2014