There seems to be a lot of myths in print and the Internet about farm corporations. First, let’s look at what is a farm corporation? According to the Minnesota Department of Ag, a farm corporation is:
“Family farm corporation” means a corporation founded for the purpose of farming and the ownership of agricultural land in which the majority of the stock is held by and the majority of the stockholders are persons, the spouses of persons, or current beneficiaries of one or more family farm trusts in which the trustee holds stock in a family farm corporation, related to each other within the third degree of kindred according to the rules of the civil law, and at least one of the related persons is residing on or actively operating the farm, and none of whose stockholders are corporations
So what are the top 5 myths of farm corporations?
1. Farm corporations are controlled by large corporations.
You may be surprised to know the vast majority of farm corporations are family farms and are not controlled by large corporations. That’s right, 98% of all farm corporations are owned by farm families. Yes, some are big and some are small, but we are farm families.
And we are one. We are a farm corporation.
But you would never know it by looking at our farm. We still care for our animals daily by feeding them, making sure they have water and caring for the sick. We look and operate just like a family farm–because we are.
2. Farm corporations are polluting our land, water, and air.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Farmers follow numerous environmental regulations and are strictly regulated by the EPA. We have land setbacks to prevent herbicides from entering the waterways. Soil tests are taken regularly to monitor the soil nutrients. Farmers also need to be certified and recertified to apply pesticides to their farmland.
3. Farm corporations are heavily subsidized by the government.
In all reality, the amount we receive in government subsidies is very small. Our subsidies consist of a reduced amount we pay for multi-peril crop insurance. And if you knew the premium we pay, you would have a hard time believing they are subsidized.
4. Monsanto controls farm corporations by telling farmers what they can and cannot grow.
I hear this a lot. And it cannot be further from the truth. We grow whatever crop we want, in the quantities that we want and where we want. Enough said. No, we cannot save our seed from the previous year(s), nor would we want to. It benefits us to plant quality seed with the best technologies and we get that by purchasing new seed yearly.
5. Animals that are raised in farm corporations are factory farms who only care about profits.
It makes no sense for farm corporations to treat their animals in ways that are unhealthy. Modern housing is well-ventilated, warm, well-lit, clean, and scientifically-designed to meet an animal’s specific needs – including temperature, light, water and food. An animal’s well-being is the top priority for any farm corporation or family farm.
For more information on farm corporations, here are a few links to other sources of information. One organization is called CommonGround – a site where conversations about farming and food take place. Another is is RealFarmers RealFood and also checkout FoodDialogues. Lots of great information!
Do you have any specific questions on farm corporations? Please be sure to ask!