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Farmers are individuals, partnerships, or corporations who cultivate, operate or manage farms.  They do all these functions for gain or profit as tenants or owners of lands.  However, people engaged in forestry or timber raising will not come under the definition of farming.  A farmer is a person who participates in the growing process in a significant manner and assumes substantial risk of loss from that process.  A land owner will be construed a farmer only when s/he participates in the farm’s operation and management rather than collection of fixed rent for the land.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture administers and manages farm commodity, credit, conservation, disaster, and loan programs through federal, state and county offices.  The FSA provides loans to beginning farmers and ranchers who are unable to obtain financing from commercial credit sources.  Every accounting year, the FSA targets a portion of its direct and guaranteed farm ownership (FO) and operating loan (OL) funds to beginning farmers and ranchers.  State agricultural agencies and local non-profits also provide farm loans.

An agricultural subsidy is a governmental subsidy paid to farmers and agribusinesses to supplement their income, manage the supply of agricultural commodities, and influence the cost and supply of such commodities.  The U.S. government pays subsidies to the farmers through U.S. farm bills.  The subsidy programs help farmers by giving them extra money for their crops and guarantee a price floor.

Every five to seven years, agricultural policies are evaluated and reauthorized through the federal farm bill.  Several programs are amended and new policies are introduced in the country, such as:

  • payment and loan programs for farm commodities.
  • conservation programs, wetlands protection, grasslands protection, farmland protection and incentives for farmers to improve environmental stewardship.
  • establishment of a county-based catastrophic assistance program focused on the systemic risk in counties with sufficient adverse weather to be declared disaster areas.
  • making amends in the structure of the dairy price support program from the current program that supports the price of milk to one that supports the price of butter, nonfat powder and cheese.
  • promoting implementation of the dairy promotion assessment on imports.
  • supporting expansion of the school fruit and vegetable snack program to 10 schools in every state that would provide significant benefits to fruit and vegetable producers and promote healthy eating habits among children.

There are more than two million farms in the U.S.  Out of that most of them are family owned farms.  Farmers in the U.S are increasingly promoting organic farming.  The organic farming method is a combination of scientific knowledge of ecology and modern technology with traditional farming practices.  Organic farmers are provided with certification after following national organic standards, keeping records of practices and materials used, and having an annual inspection.

Labor laws regarding farming deals with employment of minors under the age of 16.  The health, safety, and welfare of employed youths are regulated by such laws and it helps to prevent their exposure to certain hazardous jobs. Workers’ compensation is an income maintenance and health care insurance program that covers work related injuries, deaths, and occupational diseases.  This applies to farm owners and operators.  All agricultural labors are entitled to minimum wages, overtime pay, equal pay, record keeping, and child labor standards.  Social security coverage of farm employees provide monthly cash benefits to replace a part of the earnings lost through an employee’s retirement, death, disability or hospitalization.

Inside Farmers