“We started out to save the family farmer. Now it looks like the family farmer is going to save us.” — Willie Nelson
Keeping family farmers on the land — all of them — is our only hope for system of agriculture that benefits all of us — eaters, family farmers, our communities, and our natural resources.
But there is no hard-and-fast definition of a family farm. The US Department of Agriculture considers a “family farm” any farm where the majority of the business is owned by the operator and his or her relatives; that is, by a family. The family part is essential, yes, but many also emphasize the importance of the family being able to exercise true ownership and control over the decisions they make on their farms.
Farm Aid works to illuminate how agriculture is owned and controlled and who is truly benefiting. We define a family farmer as someone who makes the management decisions, provides the bulk of the labor on the farm, and looks to make all or most of their living from farming. But we also extend our vision for family farmers and their farms to include the critical roles they play in their community, economy and environment and their role in delivering good food for all. In addition, we celebrate the changing demographics in our farm sector at a time of transition and generational change on the land. The diverse faces of our family farmers are essential to the vibrant fabric of our food system.