Knowledge Center Blog

Welcome to the Farm Credit Knowledge Center Blog!  This blog is a combination of posts from industry experts, Knowledge Center staff and guest contributors covering all aspects of agriculture and life in the country.  We want you to participate in this blog, sharing your thoughts and comments about the topics posted here.

What is Agriculture

At first glance, this may seem like a fairly simple question – right?  Except, it’s not; not really.  Fifty years ago, defining agriculture would have been easier; most agricultural operations looked somewhat similar.  But today?  Today, agriculture is a diverse, multifaceted industry…and it is important to look at all the different angles in order to get a true understanding of the industry, and how it affects everyone on a daily basis. 
So what does agriculture look like?

  • It is the first generation farmer who took some FFA or agricultural classes in high school or college and decided that they wanted to get into farming.For many of these types of producers, they start small, possibly in a niche market such as vegetables and fruits for Farmers Markets or CSA, maybe growing flowers, or starting a small livestock herd.They may also work off-farm to supplement their income, or they may farm full time.

  • Or maybe they did not take an agricultural class.Perhaps they are coming to agriculture later in life – they have had a different job or career and decide they want to do something different.They have no background in agriculture, but they have a passion for helping to feed the world.They may start a small (or large, depending on their capital and the availability of resources like land) organic operation that focuses on selling product (vegetables, livestock, etc.) to local stores.They are the heart of buy local movement.

  • Agriculture is also the fourth generation farmer who wants to come back to the family farm because they grew up in agriculture and cannot imagine a different way of life.This can present many different challenges for both the next generation and the current one.Is the farm big enough to support another family?How can it expand to be able to accommodate?Maybe they acquire additional acreage (if it is available).Or perhaps they expand into a different market – organic or even agritourism.Or maybe they change what they are planting or raising to try to increase yields and overall productivity on the land that they already have.

  • And what about the person who has been farming all their life?They are agriculture too – they have seen the change in the industry, the shifts in demand, the ups and downs of both supply and demand.They have weathered many different storms and they are still here, still farming, still producing.

  • These are just a sample of what agriculture looks like…

Agriculture producers are stewards of the land.  They have to be – the land is what they make their living from.  Farmers have been developing and implementing new ways to preserve or increase soil health, improve water quality, and improve the land for generations.  These include, but are in no way limited to, no-till planting, cover crops, rotational grazing, stream fencing, and the use of varieties of crops that require less water, or are resistant to pests.

Agriculture is small and large, organic and conventional, crops and livestock (or both!), free range and confined feeding operations, selling all products locally and contracting all of their products to be shipped overseas, first generation with no experience and 70 years of living and working on the same land.  Agriculture is all of this and more.  What ties all of these together??  They have a passion for what they are doing.  By and large, the people who choose agriculture as a profession (either part time or full time), do so because they are passionate about it.  They want to help feed our growing population, they want to help preserve the land that we have always taken for granted, and they love what they do.  That does not discount that for most of these agricultural producers, this is also their livelihood – they depend on the land and their operations to make money to pay their bills.  Their biggest challenge is trying to balance the ever changing demands of the consumer, with their desire to do what is best for the land and the animals under their care, and their need to be able to make a profit to support their families as they help to feed so many others.  Agriculture has many different faces and many different facets, and we will need each and every one of them as we move forward with an ever growing population.  As we celebrate National Agriculture Week, take a moment to seek out a local farmer.  Learn a little more about what they do and why they do it...and thank them for all the work they do every day.


Monday, March 19, 2018
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