I am a 4th generation farmer. My great grandparents bought our farm from more distant relatives making it a dairy farm. My grandfather then took over the farm from his parents continuing with the dairy farming. My Uncle Nick mostly runs the farm now, a Holstein beef farm, with my grandfather doing little and myself doing whatever I can. We farm on about 80 acres. I work on the farm almost 24/7 in the summer, but in the winter I work only on weekends. We raise about 20 steers at a time selling them to family and friends. We personally don’t have any hired workers.
All we have is family that works whenever they can. Many people say that corporate farms are doing the US and Wisconsin good in both producing goods and in jobs, but in truth they don’t create as many jobs as the small farmers. Small family farms are disappearing from Wisconsin, but should be saved because they are not as big as corporate farms, they provide jobs, and they can be passed down each generation. Small family farms are disappearing from Wisconsin. The next generation of farmers does not want to continue farming so they leave and go to the big cities.
The big cities attract them with the new opportunities and jobs that seem to offer more. They move to the cities and the family farms have no one to keep them running so they disappear. Another reason is corporate farms are growing in size and kicking out the small family farms. The corporate farms are are few in numbers but large in size with hundreds of cows and even thousands of cows. They own hundreds of acres of land and use expensive machinery that is huge and consumes tons of diesel fuel. The small family farms own anywhere from 10 to 100 acres of land.
They use machinery that has been passed down from their parents. The equipment is small and uses plenty of diesel but not a huge amount. A third reason is that generations of people are not willing to work 12-16 hour days on a farm. People don’t want to spend 12 -16 hours of their day working on a farm in the cold of winter or the hot of summer. They don’t want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a farm that may not be bringing them a great profit. With no one wanting to keep the farms going because of the attraction to cities and the long hours, soon the only farms left will be big corporate farms.
Corporate farms may be good for the economy, but for the land and small farms not so much. Corporate farms are larger than the small family farms so they can produce more and are able to do more. Corporate farms are mass producing crops and meat, much more than the small family farms. In one year a corporate farm has hundreds to thousands of head of beef cattle and produce about 28. 5 billion pounds of beef. Small family farms have anywhere from 10 to 25 head of beef cattle and sell a couple to family and family friends, also keeping one or so to themselves.
Second, corporate farms are using more acres with larger equipment which is and can be a huge issue compared to small family farms. Using bigger machines makes cultivating, sowing, and harvesting easier but without rotating the crops into different fields each year the amount of minerals goes down and erosion goes up. Small family farms rotate their crops almost every year creating more minerals and less erosion in the land. Rotating crops lets the minerals to come back so that the land does not become an area where nothing can grow.
Finally, small farms create jobs for many without jobs compared to corporate farms in which they are larger but do not create jobs. On a corporate farm it takes about 2 people to plant, fertilize, harvest, and transport about 5,000 acres of say corn. On a small family farms it takes about 3 to 4 in order to get this all done on about 300 acres of corn. The difference? The machines that the corporate farms use are huge machines that can conquer a field in less than half of the time it takes a small farmer to to it.
Also on a corporate farm there is no need for more than say 6 or 7 workers in total, but in a small family farm you have the kids, generally 2 to 4, the parents, and possibly grandparents. Sometimes there is even aunts, uncles, and cousins. Corporate farms may be larger and can produce more for the US, but can also start to be the cause of producing because of the way that they farm like the erosion problem and not hiring many workers so no jobs are being created. Corporate farms hre few which can be a big problem with not having enough jobs compared to the small farms that hire many times more.
The jobs on Family farms are plentiful, but on Corporate farms they are few. Family farmers have many workers, as many as 15. Family farms are constantly trying to keep up with the weather and the prices of things that they need like seed, parts for their equipment, and much more. They hire many workers to plow, plant, spray chemicals to kill weeds, and harvest their crops. Many of the workers on the farms don’t get paid because they are family members, but the few that do get paid don’t get paid as much as most other people.
The average pay is around $10. 00 per hour. Next corporate farms have very few workers as little as 5 or 6 to a farm. The workers don’t do much when they are working a field most of the time all they have to do is turn the tractor at the end of the field because the tractor is programmed to the specific field so it does the rest. There isn’t need for many workers because most things are programed to do the jobs that people would otherwise have to do. Finally the percent of farming jobs in the US is extremely low.
Farming jobs are great to create jobs for the people that are willing to work long hours, but the percentage of job opportunities is still low. Less than 2 percent of the US is employed in farming. A low number that will most likely keep decreasing in the future. Farming jobs in the US will continue to decrease as new technology is created and applied to farms. Many farms are disappearing from Wisconsin, but people should help to keep them going because they are nowhere near as big as corporate farms, jobs are created for many people, and new generations can continue on with the tradition.
Corporate farms are slowly destroying the land that they farm on, they may produce more goods, but not at the quality that small farms can and do, and finally with all of the larger machines they are pushing out all of the old machine parts that many small farmers need. People can help by buying produce from their local farmers markets, going to local farm events like Breakfast on the Farm for instance, going to county fairs, buying equipment from FFA auction, and even joining clubs like FFA and/or 4-H.