Recently, one of our staff members ran across this astonishing statistic while looking at agricultural census data: in 90% of America’s family-farm households, one or both spouses must work off-farm to make ends meet. (In the 1960’s, that number was only about 40%.)
90%. Ponder that for a moment. Nine of every 10 businesses that do the most important job in America–that of putting food on your table and on many tables around the world–can’t generate enough income from their farm to pay the mortgage, buy insurance, put the kids through college, and have something left for retirement. In a matter of just a few decades, farming in America has become a part-time occupation.
The reasons for this shift could fill a book or two or three, and potential solutions are as varied as those proposed for any other economic problem. We won’t solve the problem overnight. One thing’s certain, though. When you keep your spending as close to the source as possible, you help keep the economic power of family farms from eroding even further. Every time you buy direct at a farmer’s market, a farmstand, or at a food hub like ours that buys directly from the farmer, you allow the farmer to earn a bit more for each hour of hard work that went into a pound of beef or a case of lettuce. You cast a vote that locally-produced food is important to you. You help the environment by choosing food with lower mileage. You tell a farmer that what they do matters to our region, our state and our country. On behalf of family farmers everywhere, we thank you for your support.