When I was wringing chickens' necks on our farm in West Tennessee, I didn't worry about whether I was contributing toward a way of life that must be preserved. I was more concerned about technique.
So the term family farming itself was new to me until I got to Brazil, where family farming (as opposed to farming in an effort to make money) is considered something of a sacred institution to be preserved, like a museum antique. There are special programs to support family farming, including big price incentives for selling castor oil or palm oil feedstock (which cannot be machine-harvested) to biodiesel producers.
It wasn't that long ago that everybody had, like us, a hundred or so layers and around thirty hogs. But these days, if you've got even one layer, you've got five thousand; and if you've got even one sow, you've got a thousand.
But, regardless of size, all farmers are trying to make money. The only guys in it for the lifestyle itself are retirees and the super-wealthy. Outside of that, you're trying to make as much as you can for your hard work, and aren't worried about whether you're contributing to a World Heritage Site.
This was brought home to me when I interviewed a farmer in the Brazilian state of Paraná a few years back. He was a recently-resettled landless producer to whom the government gave 50 acres to farm because he didn't have any land of his own. At the height of the Brazilian debate on whether to permit biotech, with the notion that the technology would kill the family farmer, this guy basically said, "I hoe all my 50 acres myself. Of course I want Roundup Ready beans!"
People here were aghast that a subsistence farmer would want to go the way of the multinationals and use biotech.
Which is one of my big problems with the Brazilian way of doing things. They separate "commercial agriculture" from "family farming" as if those two things were somehow different in goals. So much does this country believe in a separate and distinct "family farming" that there are two agriculture ministries here: one for family farming and the other for production agriculture.
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