The State of Family Farms in North America

New Report Makes the Case for Multifunctional Farms
North American farm families today face a number of major challenges — some inherent in the nature of farming and others new. In a new report produced by agricultural economist John Ikerd, professor emeritus of the University of Missouri-Columbia, he takes a thorough look at the state of family farms in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
“Perhaps the most important challenges in all three countries of North America,” he writes, “are government farm policies that increasingly support the industrialization of farming in a quest for economic efficiency.” This leads to highly specialized “monofunctional” farm operations and makes it difficult for diverse family farms to survive economically while maintaining their social and ethical commitments to multifunctionality.
Prof. Ikerd’s report complements CRL’s own analysis on farming, food production and the environment and the recently released reflection, The Vocation of the Agricultural Leader. We encourage our network to take the time to read through Family Farms of North America and see if you agree with Ikerd’s compelling message: “Sustainable farming for the future requires that we protect and renew natural ecosystems and create and nurture caring communities as they provide economic livelihoods for farm families.” CRL could not agree more!

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