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Southern agriculture. The agriculture itself. There’s still a lot of money to be made in agriculture, for somebody at least. Here’s a map of how much money is made from crop production across the country .

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Southern agriculture

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the agriculture itself
The agriculture itself
  • There’s still a lot of money to be made in agriculture, for somebody at least.
    • Here’s a map of how much money is made from crop production across the country.
    • All statistics and maps from either the U.S. Census or the U.S. Department of Agriculture, unless specified differently.
who s producing what
Who’s producing what?
  • Although maps for production of most commodities are available to your heart’s desire, let’s look at brief views.
    • What about cotton? (Or as a percent of harvested lands.)
    • What about tobacco?
    • What about livestock? More specifically, pork or poultry?
where does the value come from
Where does the value come from?
  • How much is being made from this agricultural production?
    • Look at this map of the average crop value per acre.
    • Where are the most valuable crops per acre being produced? The least?
  • A complicated word meaning that there are two peaks to whatever you’re measuring—in this case at the ends of the scale.
  • So, in Southern agriculture today, the income of farmers is “bimodal”—there are many farmers who earn little, a smaller but important number at the top, and few in the middle.
small vs large farm
Small vs. Large Farm
  • For example, look at this map of the number of farms from 50-99 acres.
  • Now compare it with a map of the number of farms from 500-999 acres.
  • Or in general the distribution of farm sizes across the country, by the percent of farms of a certain size.
family or company
Family or Company?
  • When you think of “farms,” it’s pretty easy to imagine a family farm.
    • How common are they?
  • What about corporate-owned farms? How common are they in the South? (At least in 1997.)
bimodality part 2
Bimodality, part 2
  • Most production value comes from a relatively small number of large farms.
  • Yet most of the land in agricultural production is still in the hands of ‘small farmers,’ though that definition is changing.
making a living
Making a living
  • As the O’Sullivan article from SRDC explained:
    • “family farming is becoming an increasingly rare social phenomenon.”
  • Let’s see. How many farmers in the South make most of their living from farming?
  • And conversely, how many farmers made their living mostly from some other occupation?
diversity is increasing
Diversity is increasing
  • The O’Sullivan article discusses in detail the increasing diversity of farm ownership, operation, and management of Southern agriculture.
  • Here’s one example of diversity in ownership: female-operated farms in the U.S.
rise in corporate agriculture
Rise in corporate agriculture
  • Why has more and more production come from corporate-owned and operated farming enterprises?
  • What is “vertical integration?”
  • What are the benefits of “scale?”

(Meaning, you produce on a larger scale.)

so what troubles are faced by small farmers
So what troubles are faced by small farmers?
  • Economic (see pp. 4-8) such as profitability, cash flow, investment, loan availability.
  • Research availability.
  • For a long time, African Americans had a harder time getting USDA-backed loans, and successfully sued.
  • Do many people you know plan to launch an agricultural career? Why or why not?
what to do
What to do?
  • Should small farms be assisted?
    • If so, what is an economic argument to help small farmers?
    • What would be a social argument?
  • Should larger corporate farms continue to grow as a proportion of agriculture?
  • What does the SRDC report recommend?