A recent report from the U.S. Agriculture Department concludes most of the income of American farming families comes from off the farm. Ag economist Roy Frederick says the U-S-D-A report contains contains a stunning figure. In what the agency sees as a typical farm household, 94-percent of the income comes from off-farm sources. The University of Nebraska economist says the definition of “farm” is a very broad one, one reason for the conclusions of this report. Frederick says “A farm is not a farm is not a farm.” There’s such great variation in the kind of homes classed as a farm, they range from half-a-million dollars gross a year to a farm home that’s nothing but a residence, yet they’re all grouped together for analysis. The professor says lots of people live in rural areas produce a thousand dollars worth of “agricultural product,” which classes them as a farm. As an example, he cites a family in which parents have city jobs but one child raises a steer for 4-HHe says that’d probably be a thousand dollars right there, and would class them as a farm, like people who have a small truck garden or orchard, something people in Iowa and Nebraska would not recognize as a farm. Freddrick says if Americans want to preserve family farms and use government money to help them, it may take some serious consideration of how farms should be defined.
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