In sea of small farms, big farms are volume producers

Some 90 percent of the 2.1 million farms in the United States are small operations with less than $350,000 a year in gross cash farm income, says a new USDA publication, "America's Diverse Family Farms."

Higher costs for farmers when interest rates rise

If the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, "it will mean higher costs for many producers" at a point when farm income is falling and growers are making increased use of credit, says Brent Gloy at Agricultural Economic Insights.

A farm school that emphasizes business acumen

“It’s no longer enough to know how to run a farm,” says Civil Eats in a story about the Grange Farm School in rural Mendocino County, California. “To be successful, farmers also need to learn how to run a business,” so there are classes on sales, marketing, accounting and regulation as well …

Strain on Colorado River worries Arizona growers

“If you eat a green salad between Thanksgiving and April, whether in Minnesota, Montreal or Modesto, odds are good some of it was grown in or around Yuma [Arizona],” says the Los Angeles Times in a story about the competing demands for water that drain the Colorado River. “Nearly 40 million …

Market is glutted with used farm equipment

With commodity prices down, sales of used farm equipment are drying up as farmers guard their checkbooks, says DTN. The loss of "bonus" depreciation, which allowed a faster write-off of equipment purchases, also deters sales.

Is North Dakota’s “ham and cheese” farm exemption too big?

The largest farm group in North Dakota will decide next week whether to seek a statewide referendum against the so-called ham-and-cheese exemptions to a state law against corporate farming, says the Associated Press.

Using radio as a farmer-knowledge tool

The Canadian charity Farm Radio International says getting farmers and farm science on the air in sub-Saharan Africa can improve the adoption of new and more productive agricultural practices, reports SciDev.Net.

Family farms – 97 percent of US total, 84 percent of sales

U.S. agriculture is dominated by family-owned farms, said the USDA in its "five facts to know about family farms." The 2012 Census of Agriculture found 97 percent of the 2.1 million farms in the country are family farms, and...

U.S. tally of farms dips by nearly 1 percent, to 2.084 million

The government estimates there are 2.084 million farms in the country, down nearly 1 percent from last year due to a drop in the number of the very smallest farms, those with less than $10,000 in annual sales.

When it comes to farming, a “medium” can sound large

A mid-size family farm in the United States averages 1,582 acres - 2.4 square miles - in size and rings up $645,000 in annual sales, says the Agriculture Department's "Farm Typology" report. There are 118,340 mid-size farms, predominantly grain and soybean operations, although more than 40 percent also raise cattle and 5 percent have hogs. Only 5.6 percent of the 2.11 million farms in the country meet USDA's criteria for a mid-size family farm, which is from $350,000 to $1 million in gross cash farm income (GCFI).

Obama mentions farm use while discussing drone rules

In a CNN interview, President Obama called for regulations for drones to ensure "that we get the good and minimize the bad." The president commented one day after a two-foot wide drone crashed on the White House grounds.

Big in some regions, ag is small potatoes in much of U.S.

Agriculture is a major industry in the Plains, Midwest, South and California, USDA data show, and the obverse holds too - in many congressional districts, farming and ranching is a minor economic factor. USDA's 2012 Census of Agriculture says there are fewer than 5,000 farms in 57 percent of the 435 congressional districts. In 62 percent of congressional districts, the market value of agricultural products sold was less than $500 million; in 77 percent of them, sales were less than $1 billion.

Ebola brings hunger to far more people than it kills

The outbreak of Ebola infections in western Africa is disrupting food production so that hundreds of thousands of people will face hunger in coming months, says The Atlantic.

Prosthetics and the working farm

"While high-end prosthetics are advancing by leaps and bounds, devices that can hold up to farming remain elusive. And the need is strong, as farming remains one of the most dangerous professions around," writes Rose Eveleth at Modern Farmer.

Beginning to farm but not young farmers

The average age of U.S. farmers is a frequent topic of concern because it is fairly high - 58 years in 2011, according to a new USDA report on the structure and finances of family farms.

Hawaii quarantines farm where PEDv is discovered

The first case of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus was confirmed in Hawaii, on a farm in Waianae Valley on Oahu, says The Pig Site, and the state Agriculture Department has issued a guarantine order against movement of hogs on the west side of the island.

“I’d like to cock him one”

Sixty years after the Double T dairy farm went into business in California's Central Valley, owner Tony Azevedo sold his cattle, partly due to unrelenting drought and partly out of frustration over disagreements with his son on transfer of the business to a new generation.

Apocalypse Plow

That's the headline on a feature story about prize-winning Modern Farmer, the "rurban" digital magazine, in Capital New York.