Celebrating the Many Different Faces of Farming

Join IFIC Foundation in Celebrating Modern Agriculture and Food Production

October is a time of global harvest, and therefore is a time to embrace the wonders of agriculture and food. Many food-focused events take place throughout the month, such as World Food Day, this October 16, 2014. The 2014 World Food Day theme, “Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth,” highlights the many different faces and diverse cultures of agriculture around the world. In addition, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has designated this year the International Year of Family Farming (View their family farming infographic here.)

From large and small farms to commodity and specialty farms, there are a variety of farms that make up the intricate patchwork quilt of agriculture you see when you fly over the corn belts of the world.

Big Farm, Small Farm, Everywhere a Farm (and Farmer)

World Food Day also highlights the need for all types of farming systems to feed a hungry, growing world. There are farms that grow one acre of organic vegetables, ranches that have 100 head of cattle, and large farms that harvest 3,000 or more acres of conventional and biotech commodity crops. Farms do not come in one shape or size, just like the farmer that owns it.

The Farms and Faces Contributing to our Harvest

Farmers: Male or female, young or old, from every country in the world

Ownership: Family-owned, commercially owned, individually owned

Farm Sizes: Large, medium and small

Crops: Commodity crops (e.g. corn, soybeans, wheat, etc.); Specialty crops (e.g. lettuce, strawberries, zucchini, etc.); Livestock (e.g. beef cattle, dairy cows, chickens, swine, etc.)

The World of Farming: Embracing Variety

A Variety of Farmers: Like any other community, farmers come from different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities. According to the USDA 2012 Census of Agriculture, US farmers are more diverse and older than in previous years. Many are over the age of 55, and male; however, female farmers are very common, representing 30 percent of all farm operators, and are helping to share the story of farming through initiatives such as Common Ground, a group of farmer spokeswomen working to tell the story of agriculture.

A Variety of Farms: According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, there are more than 570 million farms globally, more than 500 million of which are family owned. In the US, farms of all different sizes can be found. Most are small farms (according to the US National Ag Census, a small farm is defined as having one to nine acres of farming land). In the US, 87 percent of farms are family-owned and family farmers produce more than 84 percent of all fruits and vegetables. Clearly, family farmers are essential to preserving food security and to improved sustainability of agriculture and food production.

In addition, some farms are first generation farms, meaning the primary operator is a first-time farmer. Others are multi-generation farms, in which the founding family has passed the farm down to their children, grandchildren, and so on for several generations, which is still common in the U.S.

Alliance to Feed the Future Highlights Solutions to Feeding a Growing World

This October, the Alliance to Feed the Future is once again raising awareness about modern food production, family farming around the world, and the many faces of farming. During the month of October, the Alliance will highlight the challenges of feeding a growing world population and solutions offered by modern agricultural and food processing practices, including a blog series focusing on the World Food Day theme of Faces of Farming and celebrating the diversity of farmers.

The Alliance also works year round to raise awareness of the benefits of modern food and agricultural production and innovation through educational materials, outreach, and videos.

Curricula for K-8 Students: “Lunchbox Lessons: The Journey from Farm to Fork” & “Lunchbox Lessons: The Science of Feeding the World”

The Alliance has developed educational curricula to help students in grades K-8 learn about modern food and agricultural production and how American farmers and producers work to provide safe, nutritious, and abundant food choices every day. “Lunchbox Lessons” made possible through a grant from Farm Credit, includes grade-specific educational materials based on common core learning standards. All of the materials are available through the Alliance to Feed the Future website, and will soon be available on the Ag in the Classroom curricula website.

Expert Video Series: Feeding a Growing Global Population 

The Alliance to Feed the Future is adding to its series of educational videos on the importance of innovation in agriculture and food technology to improve the sustainability of the food supply and access to nutritious food. At a recent event on Capitol Hill hosted by the Alliance to Feed the Future and the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research (NC-FAR), Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), shared key priority areas of research for the agency. In his talk, Ramaswamy highlighted the importance of research and innovation in food and agricultural technology to address challenges such as food security, obesity, and climate change, as well as the need for Extension and education to communicate about new agricultural methods to the public.

How you can join in the celebration throughout the month of October:

  • Visit your local farmer – Take your clients or patients, family members, or organize a field trip for students!
  • Include the hashtags #farm4thought and #worldfoodday and #FoodD in your social media posts on food days
  • Write a blog post on the benefits of today’s modern food supply for improving food security and sustainability. Use the Alliance and IFIC Foundation resources on modern agriculture and food production to inform your post (See below)
  • Teach a class or give a presentation on modern agriculture and food production.
  • Connect with your local Cooperative Extension office, and/or your local 4-H or Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter!

For more information visit:

Alliance to Feed the Future

World Food Day

New IFIC Foundation video: Your Food, Farm to Table

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