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Farming in the United States

Updated on October 3, 2013

An Overview

As of 2010, there were 2.2 million farms in the United States, covering 922 million acres, or 418 acres per farm.

According to the 1870 census, 75% of Americans were farmers; today 2.5% toil the fields in this country.

Remembering the past
Remembering the past | Source
Days gone by
Days gone by | Source
The fields
The fields | Source

The Fields

The Thompson family owned this farm, the fifth generation to do so. Passed down from Isaac Thompson, who bought these 250 acres back in 1870. He and his wife, Audra, came west from Pennsylvania to Iowa after the Civil War, and eventually settled on this tract of land and set about the business of growing corn.

A man could make a fine living with soil like this, thought Isaac; the rocks he had known back east were absent in this fine soil, so dark and rich and practically begging a man to plant seeds. All it takes is a strong back and a stubbornness to outduel the weather, and yessir, a man could do fine by himself.

So Isaac hitched up the plow and set about doing exactly that, and over the years he passed the farm on to his only son, Peter, and Peter to his son Abe, and down the family ladder until Samuel Thompson and wife Brenda took over the operation in 1979.

Corn prices were falling by then, but still the formula for success passed down for 100 years did not fail them. Up before dawn, Brenda would milk the cows while Samuel prepared to work in the fields. His eyes were always on the skies because a farmer’s life rises and falls with the weather. There is only so much preparation of soil and loving upkeep one man can do; in the end, Nature has as much to say about a good crop as anything.

He hopes for 130 bushels per acre; that would be a good year, but man, there have been some tough years of late, what with the drought and the damn prices dropping. No sense complaining, though; there ain’t nobody listening so what’s the point? There was nobody listening in ’72 when his dad only saw 74 bushels per acre, and there will be nobody listening if they crack the 150 mark this year. A farmer concedes that point. All the people care about is having that corn on their tables in Oregon, and Texas, and New York. Don’t want to hear any bellyaching from the damn farmers. Just get ‘er done!

And get ‘er done he did, like his Pappy, and Grandpappy, until things just got too tough, tougher than a man can handle. Low yields, poor prices, high fuel, costly repairs, it all adds up, and one day a man wakes up and decides he has had enough, or the bank decides it for him, which was the case on this farm. Too many restructured loans, 2nd and 3rd mortgages, always playing against the house in a dice-throw that was destined to lose.

So now the fields stand empty. Mid-July, and the corn should be five feet tall and rustling in the winds, but instead there is only stubble and a bleakness that can only come from shattered dreams.

Visit A Family Farm in Iowa

Waiting for auction
Waiting for auction | Source
Another chapter closes.
Another chapter closes. | Source

The Farmhouse

How many children were raised in this old home? How many broken bones mended and tears dried. How many nights doing homework by lamplight, and how many sleepless nights spent worrying about making the mortgage payment?

This old house has seen it all and then some, and she is showing her age. Life on a farm means money is always short, at least it was for the Thompson family, so repair of old floorboards and leaking faucets was always low on the priority list. Bone-tired at the end of any given day, and not an ounce of energy left to re-shingle the roof or paint the shutters; that pretty much sums up life on a farm.

Now the sounds of laughter and heartbreak are gone. Children no longer run in her yard; the only sounds are the wind as it flows through the cracks in the walls and rattles the windows.

This old house has seen births and deaths, weddings and graduation parties, and it has felt the love of generations of farmers, but all that is gone now. Where once there was pride, now only desolation reigns, and an oppressive gloom settles over the eaves like some low-pressure system waiting to unleash Hell’s fury.

One-hundred and forty-two years of love and work, frustration and jubilation, all gone, packed into a UHaul trailer and motored down the road to the city. Isaac and Audra, the originals, long gone, long buried, and just as well, for broken dreams should not be witnessed by those who had visions of the stars.

The foundation has buckled from too many harsh winters, a fitting metaphor for the Thompson family and others like them. The bank owns the dreams now, and rumor has it an industrial park is headed in this direction, laying a coat of asphalt over that rich Iowa soil, and smothering any chance of future dreams.

The Future

There will be no more Thompsons, or others like them. The age of the “small” farm is over, tossed upon the bookshelf where all the other classics now sit. Now farming is called agribusiness, and a big business it is. Best in the world in corn farming, baby, and proud of it! We can outgrow any other country, and we have a rich heritage.

But where is that heritage? Gone are the Thompsons, replaced by corporate heads who push figures around looking for the ideal bottom line. All well and good you say; business is business and progress should not be impeded…..but still….this is part of our heritage….this is part of the foundation of our country. The American farmer, standing strong against all that Nature can throw at him, finally found his match as the economic downturn beat him into submission. Nobody in the corporate boardroom is weeping; that’s 250 acres of prime real estate just waiting to be gobbled up, and the banks are rolling in it, racking up the interest, the prime, and the new sales price.

Meanwhile, the Thompsons are now in Des Moines, or St. Louis, or Minneapolis, looking for jobs as clerks in grocery stores and shaking their heads when they see corn selling at 5 ears for two bucks, and wondering how can prices be so high and so many farmers still fail.

Make no mistake about it, there will always be farming in the United States, but will there always be independent farmers like the Thompsons? This land has always produced bounty, and it will continue to do so, but the days of the family farm, passed down from generation to generation, is nearing an end.

And when that end comes, another chapter in the history of our country will come to a close, never to be re-visited. It will take its place upon the shelf, and dust will cover it, and some day that chapter will be taught to school kids in U.S. History classes, and maybe, just maybe, someone will be interested.

On a personal note: my grandparents lost their Iowa corn farm during the Great Depression. I have seen the sorrow and pain firsthand. God bless the farmers!

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      And here it is, another American tradition soon to be experienced only in the history books and museums. You captured this sad plight so well, Bill. Up, interesting, sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sherri, thank you! I wish I hadn't captured it so well...>I wish I was over-exaggerating.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Thank you for sharing and it is truly sad that yet another of our country's traditions will soon be only seen in the history books. It just seems like we are moving at a faster pace each everyday, week, month and year too. But just so sad that we just can't slow down slightly and see the forest for the trees here so to speak. I have of course voted up and shared all over!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine! It's been a tough struggle for farmers seemingly forever, but with the economy the way it is, the struggle is just getting worse. Thank you for the sharing.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 4 years ago from New York City

      Powerful hub Bill, there is a grass roots uprising in this country like no other, but I have yet to do the accurate research as to the percentages of organic farmers coming out of the wood works today, and to begin reversing this awful reality of loss of farmers to the big bug business of pesticide agriculture & genetically modified seed farming, but if they are to fit into your figures up above, well then yup you are 100% correct on the whole last of the farmers deal.

      I will check out the statistics on American farming for sure, now that you've brought this up to our attention, I do think however that people are determined to put an end to big businesses causing health issues for all of us by being so greedy and all, and so the fight has just begun, and the food revolution rages onwards for years and years to come, so I won't give up to soon bro!

      Awesome hub by the way, your writing style is beyond, and has the a certain zeal of authenticity written all over it. Bravo! once again Bill.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I would really love to be a farmer, but what should be a simple goal is basically unattainable these days! I feel like the best I can hope for is to one day mostly feed myself and not really be able to view it as a paying job. It's very sad.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, thank you! Heady words coming from you, and I am honored and humbled.

      There is a small revolution happening, and I think it will grow. We are slowly turning to the small farm....one to five acres, for self-sustaining for one family....and then it will spread to a community farm. We have quite a few neighborhood gardens here in Olympia, one large garden shared by five or six households. it's interesting to watch this shift in society, and I think it is absolutely necessary in the future.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Natasha, thanks for your comment, and I agree, it is sad. I think one or two acres is good for one family, and I think that is doable....but owning a large farm....very difficult. There comes a time when bigger is not better in today's society.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      What an amazing hub Billy ;as always told in that easy natural style.

      You created another masterpiece.

      Enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • Michael Tully profile image

      Michael Tully 4 years ago

      Well said, Bill. The story could be repeated hundreds of times. Here in north Texas, the only successful farming operations are the big boys who are cashing in heavily on USDA farm subsidies. It's all about the economies of scale these days. The only way to reverse the trend, in my opinion, would be to get the federal government completely out of the farming business.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 4 years ago

      Such a sad but very true account of our farmers. I love the whole concept of farming, the family, and what it used to be. For a brief moment in time I was what they called a back yard farmer, raising chickens, growing my own food, sadly it cost more to keep it up and being just me spending most of time caring for the only one acre, I could not do it anymore. I cant imagine the larger scale farms trying to sustain in today's horrendous markets. I have a dream of communities coming together making a farm within the community, each family devoting time and effort to sustain it and growing their own food but values, time, and money continue to keep this idea at bay..Thank you for a great hub Billy,

      Sunnie

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      How sad it is Bill, that folks like the Thompsons will soon cease to exist. It sometimes seems we take one step forward and two steps back. If the recession and financial disasters continue we may all wind up being backyard farmers! You've touched a sad nerve here.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Eddy! I needed to say a word for a group of our population that rarely is heard of.....and where would we be without them?

      Peace to you my friend,

      bill

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      What a chapter of well earned living. The banks and the corporate farming enterprises nust care about lucrative gain with not so much pain. There will another way to farm the rich soil, but America won't be the same. Values will be lost for sure. Our grandkids will talk about "The Ingalls" and "The Waltons" like an another assignment from Ancient farming in America for a degree in Agricultural engineering in a future College. Well written my friend; you made your family so proud. I saw the sweating and felt that heartbeat with every key stroke, when writing this hub.

      I know you were taken back to Charles City, Iowa back in 1959. You saw your grandma and a generation that was in full throttle and with so much hope. Thanks billy for another lesson from life.

    • profile image

      mjkearn 4 years ago

      Hi Billy

      Brilliantly written hub and impossible to stop reading in the hope that the farm survived. Unfortunately it went the way of so many and this story is oh so familiar across the globe.

      I live in the remote hills of Ireland surrounded by forestry and farmers. I'm no farmer but I fix their tractors and machinery and am only too well aware of their working hours.

      There is no booking in or scheduled maintenance. Things need fixing when and where they break and there's no 24 hour parts depot.

      It's a community life, everyone's a member and it's wonderful but times are tough all round and the banks have so much to answer for and never will.

      At present the community talk is of how many have gotten repossession orders myself included but thank god for this community as we fight together for one another.

      Great hub. Voted and shared.

      MJ.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      It is heart breaking to realize that this part of Americana is indeed going to pass away. And someday maybe some one will be interested when it is discussed, or, maybe not.

      Is it my age that makes me feel sad that we are losing this part of our heritage? I really don't think so. We had a small farm when I was a young girl and while we did not make our living from it much of our food came from it.

      Tilling the soil, growing things, harvesting...it is all so good for the soul. That connection to the earth is unlike any other.

      Thank you for sharing this Billy....and God bless all of the Thompsons.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Yes... I do have a few family members who still farm....difficult a living as it has become..(sadly) and I certainly know many farmers in the area, living in the midst of all sorts of farm acres. It really does depend on the crop.....Our grape farmers are doing very well.......others, especially dairy farmers, not so well.

      Your hub tells an unfortunate tale, indeed, bill. The American farmer, once the most prized and protected laborer of all.....now facing an end to generations of their blood, sweat and tears.....We need to be ashamed..............UP+++

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      A very beautiful and yet sad tribute to the family farmer; one that could be told about every rural community in America. You captured the very essence of life on the farm. This may be my favorite of all your writings Bill. It's simplicity characteristic of the life of a family farmer who works harder than perhaps any other profession. When this part of our history is gone forever, we will live with regret. It is so important to buy local, in support of these people who have put their heart and soul into the land. An additional perk is that you are getting healthier food, grown with love. Kudos to you for this beautiful work Bill. Voted up, up, and up!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael, I have thought for decades, now, that the government needs to get out of farming. All they have done is muddy the picture on a daily basis and cater to the big boys. I feel for the farmers; our family lost their farm in the Great Depression and I know how much it hurt them.

      Thank you Sir!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sunnie, we are seeing that idea on a smaller scale here in our city. There are neighborhood gardens all over town, where families sign up to do work, and it is a cooperative spirit. I hope they are successful maybe one day we will see community gardens of the type you envisioned.

      Thank you my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, it comes from family; my grandparents lost their Iowa corn farm during the Depression, so I've heard the stories and seen the pain.

      Thank you for caring.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Joseph! Your words are every bit as powerful as my hub, and I greatly appreciate it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MJ, great comment, and thank you for sharing your own experience with farmers and tough economic times. This is a fine kettle of fish we have nowadays, and I'm afraid it isn't going to improve for some time to come. Let's hope I'm wrong.

      Thank you my friend. Sending best wishes to you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, my family, three generations back, were the Thompsons, and it is heartbreaking to see all of that work and history taken away forever. It is hard work, but it is honest work, and it is heritage that needs to remain.

      Thank you my friend; I appreciate you greatly!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, it breaks my heart, and on a personal level since my grandparents lost their Iowa farm many years ago. I have seen the sadness, like a part of their souls were taken away by the banks.

      Anyway, here's to the farmers....may the solution be found and may their heritage be saved.

      Thank you Paula!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, this one was a bit personal, so I'm glad it showed through in my writing. Thank you dear friend; I greatly appreciate your kind words and wonderful comment. Let's march on and see what other dragons we can slay. :)

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Bill, just more confirmation that writing from that place within us (passion, love, fear, guilt, etc.) brings out the best we have. Again, I absolutely love this one.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      It's sad to drive down the highway and see all the farms that are empty now. Houses and barns falling apart. My aunt and uncle farmed cotton and I know they made a very good living from it. It was a early morning to evening job. They rarely went anywhere. Now days I don't think young people want to spend that much time working hard and not being able to leave the place (not all young people but some). Kids don't stay and help with the farms like they use to.

      Voted uP!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      When I was a kid, my mother said that farming was done for the love it. Grow your own food, and that will be done with love, that's for sure.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you again, Linda! We may not make any money doing what we do, but it sure feels good doing it. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, you just summed it up perfectly. A farmer loves his work....and it is a part of her.....as honest a profession as I can imagine.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Moonlake, you got that right! The modern world has infringed on this farming way of life, and kids head off to see the world, and hard work of this type is not attractive at all to modern society. Still, what a wonderful profession. :)

      Thank you!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      This is a great hub Billy... but a sad reflection of many farmers reality...over here in Oz there are many in the farming community that have gone the alternate route into organic farming and or diversified and gone with the 'trend' so to speak of different and new crop varieties to save their future...somehow I think these are the ones who seem to make it in the end...I loved the way you've written this, intertwining a story with truth,great style...well done voted UAI & shared...cheers

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carter, I have seen that to be true here in the States. Those who are branching off into specialty products seem to be doing well. Those who cling to the old ways will never make it, because it's not profitable to farm 500 acres of corn....that has to be grown on farms with thousands of acres in order to be profitable, and most "family" farms will never be that big.

      Anyway, thank you!

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      As soon as I saw the title of this one, I knew you were going to make me cry. I read have read so many stories like this, but each one hurts my heart. This issue is the reason why we're going to hell in a handbasket: greed. We want everything to be as cheap as possible no matter what the cost, and we let the wealthiest people take over and make things worse. In the meantime, we're fighting over our opinions on what consenting adults are doing in their own bedrooms. ARRGGH! You got me started again . . .

      You rock, Bill. Keep fighting the good fight.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Radcliff, I fear I will become known as the Hubber who made Radcliff cry! :) What a claim to fame! Well, if it helps any, I respect you for feeling so strongly about issues like this one. Thank you for being the person you are; we only need about 100 million more like you and we might see some change in this country.

    • Jordanwalker39 profile image

      Jordanwalker39 4 years ago from GA

      Great hub! It is sad though that the small farmer is going the way of the dodo...

    • Farmer Rachel profile image

      Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Well, this hub sure was sad. I guess it was inevitable that the industrial revolution brought about the end of widespread small farming. If everything else can be produced so cheaply and at a mass-scale, why not food?

      I personally reject the notion that small farms that make a living for the farmers that work them will be completely extinct; I have to reject it, or give up who I am. I also have to accept that such small farms are become a rarity.

      How sad for my generation, and for those who will come after me. I fear for the future of humanity, if there comes a time when basically no one knows a thing about soil quality, seed saving, how to butcher a hog, or even how to care for a chicken. What will become of us all if the carefully constructed house-of-cards system that feeds us... collapses?

      Great hub, Bill. Another story that must be dragged out into the light.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Bill, I voted this piece up and beautiful, as your writer's voice is so beautiful here. You capture this American tragedy in such an honest, straightfoward way. Sometimes I wonder what is happening in our country. It is like we are all watching a house burn down, but the house is on the other side of the glass and we can do nothing to stop it. And so we watch. We watch as more and more American lose their jobs and way of life. My sister's in-laws own a family dairy farm, which thankfully is doing well. We need to support our family farms, as big agribusiness corporations do not care what they do to the land or the consumer, as long as their bottom line is growing alongside their GMO corn.

    • Farmer Rachel profile image

      Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Donnah - You've hit the nail on the head there, with your mention of BigAg, GMOs and the bottom line. I take solace in knowing that their system is unsustainable and has to fail - my concern is that no one will be left to produce food by the time it happens. (Sorry to hijack your hub, Bill!!)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Rachel, I was wondering when you would get here. :) I want you to reject those premises....hell, girl, I'm counting on it! :) There has to be someone willing to keep the traditions alive or we, as a society, are in a world of hurt. I do believe it is possible to be profitable at farming on a small scale, but I think the reality of the economic world forces one to think outside the box....like specialty crops.....otherwise I think subsistence farming is the best one can hope for.

      I hope to hell that farms of 400 acres don't become extinct, but I think it's going to take some creative approaches for it to be profitable. I have great hope when I meet people like you who are determined to make it happen.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Late in getting here as I did not have wi fi until later today..Still in California...suffering terribly on our boat and the sunshine and good food etc. Great hub about farming. I always feel sad hearing about the plight of farmers who bring us our food. As always a lot of feeling and caring in your words. Thanks as always for sharing and informing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jordan, I think it's entirely possible that the small farmer as we have known them over the years, may find it very hard to survive. There are too many factors against them. Having said that, I still have hope that they will somehow figure it all out.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Donnah, you said it quite beautifully, and thank you for the kind words. We see some farms here still making it as a family enterprise, but they have branched out into new avenues, like pumpkin patches for the kids, and corn mazes, etc. It's possible, but it takes creativity in today's economic world. Thanks for some great insights.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rachel, I'm behind you all the way; I think you know that. I want you fired up and you can hijack this hub anytime you feel like it. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, you will have me jealous shortly! :) Thanks for making the effort to get here; you are never late. :)

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      There are still some smaller farmers hanging in their by their fingernails so as to produce safe organic food for consumers--something Big Agribusiness farms don't worry about at all. The latter are only concerned with profits. Many organic farms are operated by extended families--parents, sons, daughters, in-laws and grandchildren--who take pride in producing quality food, even though monster companies like Monsanto are doing their dead level best to destroy these farms. Those corporate farms may grow a lot of corn, but it's all GMO corn and--in spite of the FDA's claims to the contrary (which are a lie from a corrupt agency run by a former Monsanto attorney)--GMO seeds are not good for humans or animals. If you get the idea from my comment that I hate Monsanto and don't trust the FDA...you are 100% correct!

      It was a sad day when factory farms took over America. Those cute pictures of family farms in children's storybooks are now sheer fantasy.

      Bill, it's sad to see pictures of farms that have been lost by the families that worked so hard on them for years. Here's hoping the restrictions on factory farms currently being considered by Congress come to fruition. Perhaps the day will come when family farms in the USA will once again be the norm....if there are any "real" seeds left by then!

      Voted Up+++

      Jaye

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jaye, a very intelligent and insightful comment and I thank you! The American farmer has been getting the shaft for far too long. I have no time for corporate farms, and I pray that Congress, just this once, does the right thing. YOu are right, of course, that there are farms making it producing organic and specialty food. I'm hoping that somewhere down the road wiser heads will rule and we'll see the dangers in our current practices.

      Thank you for reading and leaving such a great comment.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Bill, you are right about branching out. My sister's mother and father in law sold out their share of the family farm to his brother, and they have started an artisan cheese company, which buys milk from the family farm. It allows the next generation of children to stay connected to the farm and still support their families.

      Rachel, I agree. It is not sustainable, and I can't wait for the collapse. I think small, local farms will win in the end. At least I hope so.

    • Farmer Rachel profile image

      Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Reactions to a hub like this give me hope. The fact is that the more BigAg tampers with people's food, the less trusting the general public is becoming. We're not stupid, and they kind of counted on that!

      And when the US gets with the program and forces GMO labeling, Monsanto will have a real problem. There are always going to be people who are interested in buying healthy, wholesome food that was raised humanely and with respect to the environment, and as long as that's true there will be a way for someone like me to make a simple, modest living on a small farm. There's no room for extravagence in the life of a small farmer, that's for sure. You won't have the newest thingy, or the nicest car, or high-speed internet that doesn't fail on your when you're about to publish a new Hub... But who needs it, when you have the sunshine and the wind in your hair and you get exercise every single day? Everything manmade can and will fail, so BigAg can't sustain -- thank god for that.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Love it! We have a dream of starting a sustainable educational farm...I wrote a hub on it if you are interested....but it is that kind of alternative thinking that will make it for farmers. Obviously I feel strongly about this....my grandparents fell during the Great Depression...farming is in our family and I will always support family farmers.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rachel, it's good to see the fire burning inside of you. I am very encouraged. I am no stranger to farming, and if you get the chance, read my hub on the educational farm that Bev and I want to start in three years. I'm all for you Rachel, and I will always be for the farmers in this country.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Billy - This melancholy hub brought back such wonderful memories of my childhood when we had at least 4 family run farm operations within a two mile radius of our house. Children today will never know the awesome fun of jumping the high hay bales, swinging on the large ropes, which hung from the barn roofs. Neither will we continue to see generations of families as you have stated.

      It is one more sad chapter in America.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Beckie, you just described my childhood visits to Iowa, and also some friends here in Washington who grew up on farms. Wonderful memories of the same things that you mentioned. I loved the smell of the barns....and playing in the hay piles. Wow, I miss it! I hope I'm wrong with this article. :)

      Thank you

      bill

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      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Hello from Toronto!

      Was just driving to the country for a long drive a few days back. I took pictures of barns and farm house we passed on highways and inner roads, which I always do for chances like this. I see modernized farm houses/industrial structures, and also a number of barns that are abandoned and worn. What would a countryside be without the barns animals, fields to toil and crops?

      There were not much orchard-bearing apples this fall. Farm population has decreased and you see less and less farmers. And from an article that I have read, "the average farmer is currently over 55 yrs old".

      The modern form of farming (industrial agriculture) has affected the traditional farming of our farmers draining these small family farms.

      It is also best that we support our farmers and buying our organic produce straight from them. It is good to see people from farther parts of the city come down to community markets and buy from these farmers who have also gotten up early to set their tables of fresh crops and produce, poultry and meat. Or else, those who are within the country route could pick up and buy from those farmers. Take advantage of the opportunity to know and converse with them.

      This is a useful and admirable article, billybuc.

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      God bless the farmers who feed us everyday, What would we do without them, I hesitate to say. A beautiful tribute to the farmers. I am told that my Father was a farmer..Thank you..

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruby and you are right....God bless the farmers!

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      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This is so very sad (I always hoped to have a farm myself). I listened to a documentary today that said if we used food energy for fuel, etc we would not have to have any imported fuel at all in the US and just think of the people and especially farmers that would be put to work and we would know just were all our food comes from by the way. Love this. Up and sharing.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Coffee, so nice to see you my friend, and thank you for the quality comment.

      I like the part about getting to know the local farmers and conversing with them. We can all step up and buy locally; it is so important that we support our local businesses and keep them thriving. Regardless of what others say, local businesses, and farmers, are the backbone of our economy.

      Thank you so much for the visit and the reflections.

      bill

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jackie, I agree completely. We have just scratched the surface of that particular industry....biofuel....I hope to live long enough to see our country wake up regarding fuel sources and get us to the point where we are self-sustaining.

      Thank you; I owe you a much longer comment next time. :)

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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      You hub clearly shows how people are slowly moving away from the rustic because they have moved on to the "bigger" things....created by city living, materialism and modern technology. This little farmhouse represents the little pleasures that we should cherish! Thanks for provoking some thoughts this late morning!

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      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      My mom would share stories of her life on the farm. It was always so fascinating to hear how she lived back then. Your sharing is wonderful on how life was back then as well. It is an era that we have lost.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, I fear you might be lost. Let's hope we are both wrong.

      Thank you my friend and have a great weekend.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, you can always count on me to provoke some thoughts. LOL It seems to be in my blood, for better or for worse. :) Thank you for a great summary of modern living. Have a great weekend!

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      crystaleyes 4 years ago from Earth

      I remember my uncle(my dad's elder brother) at our paddy fields in our village, when I was very young. But by the time I passed out of 12th grade, all the paddy fields were gone, sold to big entrepreneurs, who have constructed sprawling resorts and weekend farmhouses over it.. it is very sad.. no one cared from where our bread and staples will come from in future if all our agricultural lands are gone. I wish we could do our own farming and produce food for our own neighborhood..community farming is a very good idea.. Very good hub billy.. voted up and awesome.. thanks

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      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. for 5 years my family got rid of me by sending me to a work at a ranch with an uncle.

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      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I enjoyed reading about the Thomson family, but was so saddened to hear of the fields that stand empty, as well as the lost dreams of future generations for this family in farming. It is a tale we hear too often these days. I am so fed with the greed of big business, and the price tag to this country. Capitalism works; greed, fraud and ignorance do not. Voted up and shared.

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      whowas 4 years ago

      The situation may not be so bleak, Bill. While your analysis of what has happened in the face of agribusiness is true, there are real and positive signs of a backlash return to the smaller-scale farming economy. Certainly that trend is very clear in UK and it's happening in the US, too. Look: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/02/us/small-scale-f...

      We mustn't let the bad guys burden us with sorrow. They want us to feel hopeless, like its all too big for us to do anything about. But that's a lie. The future is ours to create. And it starts today.

      :)

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Crystaleyes, thank you for the visit. I have fond memories of the farm when I was a kid....loved playing in the corn fields and in the barn....especially the barn. :)

      I just noticed you are from India; don't know why it took me so long to notice that. Anyway, thank you!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martin, I can think of worst places to spend five years, but of course, as a teenager, that statement is open for debate. Thank you my friend and have a great weekend.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Genna, you stated it all about as well as anyone could. This is all about greed.....and until big money is out of politics it will always be about greed.

      Thank you and have a great weekend.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Whowas, good for you, and I actually agree with you. There is still room in this economy for the small farmer; I have seen signs of it here in our state. It calls for creativity and hard work, but it is possible.

      Thank you for sharing that link, and have a great weekend.

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      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      As a farmer, I found this hub very interesting. Farming in Nepal is still in primitive stage, and waits to be industrialized.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vinaya, I'm sorry, I had no idea you were a farmer. Very interesting to get your perspective about this. Best of luck to you and thank you!

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      Deborah Neyens 4 years ago from Iowa

      Another excellent hub, Bill. It's sad to see what has happened to the small family farm. One of the challenges of getting young people interested in farming as a career is the high price of farmland. What 20-something person can afford $5,000+ per acre just starting out? My (not so) secret dream is to be a farmer, but I guess I have to settle for my vegetable garden and 3 backyard hens.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, that is insanity! I had no idea land cost that much in Iowa...WOW! If it cost that much here I would be able to realize my dream in three years. Thank you for the visit and enjoy that Iowa fall!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Billy,

      This hub interests me very much because I grew up on a dairy farm and now my second oldest sister is still on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. I am visiting her now and learning about the present status of the dairy industry. She and my brother-in-law are milking about 40 head and struggling to stay in business. If my sister wasn't a vet, they couldn't make a go on this farm. In addition to high fuel prices, the cost of growing crops and feed for the cows is out of this world. My sister, brother-in-law along with the brother-in-law's brother spend about 7-8 hours each day feeding and milking cows. In addition to this, there is field world and also time required for farm maintenance. I'm helping a little now and realize how much work there is. My dad once said that the father buys retail and sells wholesale. Unfortunately, most small farmers can't make it this way. Voted up and sharing.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paul, that was a great comment. Blessings to your sister and her husband. It is a struggle at best, and I admire them for trying to make a go of it. I hope things become easier for them; we need farmers and God bless them.

      bill

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      Doodlehead 4 years ago from Northern California

      My brother's barn burned with the dairy cows in it. They had the UW Extension do an evaluation and they determined the best use of the farm was to grow alfalfa, not have a dairy farm. He does well now.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Doodlehead, I'm glad he found the help he needed and is doing well. Thank you for a great comment.

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      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      As my grandparents farm was my backyard growing up, and the neighbors were all farmers, I know well of what you talk about. Now, farming is not at all prevalent as housing has taken the land and ruined the landscape. I'm afraid many will never know the times we enjoyed. Perhaps, one day, they'll make a video game about them. Good job, my friend!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rich, i would have laughed about the video game, but you may be very close to the truth. A Sims version of Farming....how very sad!

      Thanks buddy! I think every kid should have to spend a couple summers on a working farm, but nowadays it would probably be considered child abuse.

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      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      It always makes me sad to see an empty farmhouse and I have to wonder what happened in that house. Around here I see farms disappearing and houses that all look the same taking there places. We also see fracking around here with new wells popping up every day. Nice hub Bill.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, I agree with you, it is all very sad, and fracking is nasty business that should not be allowed.....but evidently those of us who feel that way are in the minority!

      Thank you my friend!

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      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, thank you for remembering our farmers. Remember Farm Aid? The concert put on by John Cougar and others? It's disgusting and obscene how corporate America is plowing (no pun intended) through the dreams of its people. I can't even say anymore; I am so over it!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I wish I could get over it. :) Farm Aid for sure....Willie Nelson will always be one of my favorites because of his unselfish work for the farmers in this country.

      Thank you my dear; I hope you had a great weekend!

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      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Willie is awesome!!!! Did you have a nice birthday, Bill?

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I did, Sha, and thank you for the phone call. That was very sweet of you my friend!

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      pramodgokhale 4 years ago from Pune( India)

      I am an Indian, born in family of landlord, during British regime in 1930 my daddy told there were famines in many parts of India, so they sold part of our land to survive. India is still agrarian country, after rapid industrialization we don't know what will be the situation? Farmers are under loan burden and if could not repay then commits suicide .sad story.

      Farming is a culture of any country and of course strength.After WW II American farmers did great job, supplied food to devastated Europe and other parts of the world .My salute to them, but now your article indicates that something is wrong in USA and farmers there.

      Subsidies will not improve the situation and welfare schemes can be introduced and farming is their livelihood then government should protect them.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      pramodgokhale, thank you for relating life in India; it is always interesting to hear about different cultures and our similarities. Yes, things need to improve in America for the farmers.

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      pramodgokhale 4 years ago from Pune( India)

      billybuc

      Sir thank you for allowing me to discuss. Indian farmers are at mercy of middlemen and government authorities. In India most of the farmers are small land holders, holding just 2/3 acres and they need funding and subsidies and additional business like poultry, Dairy, Mushroom farming and if possible fish breeding.On paper all looks lucrative but small landholders worked in their farm and for cash they work on other farms as a labor.

      In small farms problem begins with soil quality and so productivity is less then farming is loss making, selling of land is not a solution but that creates more problems in rural India.

      Our government offers to buy at minimum support price directly from farmers, that is good move somehow to protect farmers , sometimes they waive off loans but it is not a good practice because those farmers paid loans they feel injustice to them and discrimination.

      So India's farmer and farming is a problematic issue but democratic India will solve this problem in phases and in legal framework

      thank you for opening new hub for agriculture related problems.

      pramod gokhale

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      pramod, thank you so much for giving us further insight into the plight of the farmer in India. Very interesting indeed; it appears that farmers worldwide have a tough job with little help from the government. Sad but true.

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