article: Don't Let Your Children Be Farmers

cole_robbie(6)August 11, 2014

"The dirty secret of the food movement is that the much-celebrated small-scale farmer is not making a living... the median farm income was negative $1,453 in 2012"

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Great article. One of the most depressing things for me is that I've been unable to find a good farming role model, someone who's actually making a decent living from farming alone. The farms that I thought were doing well before I got into market farming just aren't. They're not making money and almost all of them have both partners working full time jobs during the week and they squeeze in farm work nights and weekends.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 10:28AM
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Sung to the tune of "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys"?

I'm there with the negative income. I don't know about the Forbes article and tax breaks for hobby farmers. But CT doesn't require farm income to declare for a property tax reduction. My great-uncle kept his for years after he got rid of the last of his cows, I had it transferred when I bought the back acreage, and they just subtracted 4 acres to make residential when we built. Taxes are bad enough up here, if I didn't have the farm and forest exemption there would be no way to keep this land in the family - we'd have to sell it to a developer if it were all taxed as residential.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 10:31AM
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The combination of the right people and right properties and other circumstances to make it work, aside from grants and government farm welfare are probably pretty rare. Can't say it won't work for anyone though. Can't say that some people wouldn't rather be poor farmers than anything else too. As you all know, the allure and some satisfactions derived can both be strong.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 3:26PM
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Amen, rustico!

Here's a great response to the NYT article.

Yes, I could make more money doing just about anything else.....but I don't want to do anything else.

Here is a link that might be useful: Let your children be farmers

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 3:22PM
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Except for some historical blips, farming in this country has sadly been a subsistence farming operation. Now with pressure from overseas suppliers the task of making any money is harder than ever. Doubtful we will see any market forces that change that equation. Hate being so negative.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 5:43PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

I had to pay taxes last year. But it was really the first time I had to pay. And that's with my hubby working too. And if you figure a decent hourly wage like $15 per hour for the hours I put in, then I shouldn't have had to pay at all! only like a million hours a week, every day.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 3:29PM
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I won't say we are making a living from what we are doing now. but we are not in the negative. We make jams, jellies and pickles and sell at 2 small farmers markets. I'm sure if I wished to attend a large market, we would make more. It would also mean more work, and i'm happy with what are doing.

Now in the past, we did do the veggie part of marketing, and unless I was very careful, we could loose so much money. It took us 3 years before there was a profit, and we never made minimum wage. But we did have plenty of excess to can for our own food.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2014 at 8:32PM
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This year I've given more to food pantries and soup kitchens than I've sold - no one was really interested in squash or green beans (though they sold well last year?!), and the tomatoes started coming in late and HEAVY, I can't sell what I am harvesting each week. I just started canning them the past couple of weeks for ourselves now that things are slowing down a little and I have time. But all I did all day yesterday was pick - 4 trips back and forth (walking, I need the exercise) with buckets, emptying them into bins and cardboard boxes and coolers and then going back for more. I haven't even picked peppers yet - I don't have containers to put them in, no room in fridge to store them, and they're not ripening yet. I'm hoping to get enough tomatoes processed in the next couple of days to free up some containers and bring peppers to Wed market. But market is slowing down, only 2 weeks left.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2014 at 3:11AM
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