Sad Truth of Small Farming: No One's Making Any Money

90% of US farmers depend on outside funds: Jaclyn Moyer
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2015 1:03 PM CST
Sad Truth of Small Farming: No One's Making Any Money
Small farming may seem idyllic, but it can also seem nearly impossible, writes Jaclyn Moyer.   (Shutterstock)

Running a small farm: an idyllic pursuit, surrounded by natural beauty and immersed in a sense of satisfaction. Right? Well, sometimes, writes Jaclyn Moyer at Salon. But that's just a tiny part of a grueling job in which there's a very good chance you won't be able to make a living. At her farm in northern California, Moyer works 12-hour days, six days a week, she writes—yet her income last year was just $2,451, less than many kids make in a summer. She's worked through her savings, and "the only thing keeping the farm afloat" is money from outside work.

That's not unusual, she notes: USDA data shows that on "intermediate-size farms" grossing between $10,000 and $250,000, just 10% of farmers' household income comes from the farm, while smaller farms "actually lose money." Some 90% of US farmers depend on outside work or independent wealth as a primary income, Moyer notes. Certainly, there are moments of pleasure, like "pausing in the field during a summer morning harvest to slice open a watermelon." Those dismayed at the state of big agriculture take solace in passing a small organic farm on their way home, and they let Moyer know. But "my farm’s become a billboard, and like all billboards, this one is deceptive," she writes. Click for the full piece. (More farming stories.)

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