By: Amber Li

What are farms?

A farm is an area of land or water (for aquaculture) that includes various structures and is devoted primarily to the practice of producing and managing food. It is the basic production facility in food production. Farms may be owned and operated by a single individual, family, community, corporation or a company. A farm can be a holding of any size from a fraction of a hectare (There are approximately 259 hectares in a square mile), to several thousand hectares.

Types of farms

1. Single family farms are often owned by people who are employed with a full time job, but want to augment food products purchased at grocers or supermarkets. A typical farm of this type will often focus on growing several foods that can be preserved as well as used straight from the garden. Pole beans, peas, tomatoes, bell peppers, corn, and okra are some examples of produce that may be grown in a small family farm in the Midwestern United States.
2. Along with farming projects that focus on growing food, there are also farms that focus on livestock. Some common examples are hog farms, cow farms, and goat farming. Normally, farming businesses of this type raise the livestock for eventual slaughter and processing to supply meats in supermarkets. Depending on the prevailing culture in a given country, this type of farm may be referred to as a ranch, with the owners known as ranchers rather than farmers.

3. Fish farms are also common to many countries and cultures. In some cases, the selection of fish is focused on supplying fresh products to local restaurants and markets. Other fishing businesses of this type focus on global markets, raising large quantities of fish such as tilapia grouper for use by commercial food producers. In the southern area of the United States, catfish farming is a viable money-making project.

4. Poultry farms are usually about mass production of chickens that are commercially packaged and sold at various supermarkets or large fast food and restaurant chains. One of the growing trends with this type of farming is the whole earth or green approach. Chickens raised in a farm that is set up as an organic or whole earth operation only receive feed that is composed of natural ingredients, and are not subjected to artificial hormones to facilitate their growth.

Food for Thought - What do America's Farmers grow?

Fun Facts About Agriculture

1. More than 21 million American workers (15 percent of the total U.S. workforce) produce, process and sell the nation’s food and fiber.

2. Farmers and ranchers receive only 16 cents out of every dollar spent on food at home and away from home. The rest goes for costs beyond the farm gate: wages and materials for production, processing, marketing, transportation and distribution. In 1980, farmers and ranchers received 31 cents.

3. In 2010, $115 billion worth of American agricultural products were exported around the world. The United States sells more food and fiber to world markets than we import, creating a positive agricultural trade balance.

4. Twenty two million American workers produce, process, sell and trade the nation's food and fiber. But only 4.6 million of those people live on the farms-- slightly less than 2 percent of the total U.S. Population.

5. Consumers spend $547 billion for food originating on U.S. farms and ranches. Of each dollar spent on food, the farmer's share is approximately 23 cents. The rest are for costs beyond the farm gate: wages and materials for production, processing, marketing, transportation and distribution.