Numerous sources provide evidence of trends and patterns in average farm size and farmland distribution worldwide, but they often lack documentation, are in some cases out of date, and do not provide comprehensive global and comparative regional estimates. This article uses agricultural census data provided at the country level in Web Appendix to show that there are more than million farms worldwide, most of which are small and family-operated. It shows that average farm size decreased in most low- and lower-middle-income countries for which data are available from towhereas average farm sizes increased from to in some upper-middle-income countries and in nearly all high-income countries for which we have information.
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InI left my job in private practice as an attorney to get a masters of law in food and agriculture law and policy from the University of Arkansas, School of Law. A few months after making the transition, I ed up for a farm tour hosted by the local food co-op. Most of the operations featured small-scale veggie production with some pastured eggs, but as a city kid who grew up wanting to be a cowgirl, the last stop on the tour was the one I was most eager to see.
Are you truly ready to buy a farm?
Located 20 miles west of Fayetteville, Ozark Pasture Beef OPB raises grass-fed beef and lamb, direct marketing to restaurants and consumers. I was eager to learn about how to raise livestock and run a farm business from the powerhouse duo that runs the operation, Ann Wells and Ron Morrow. Wells is a veterinarian who has worked in various capacities before starting OPB in She speaks at countless events and conferences and is a champion of using nutrition to promote animal health.
Morrow has a doctorate in genetics and taught many courses including beef cattle management at various universities. He also served as the Arkansas state grazing lands specialist for eight years and is an active speaker on rotational grazing.
What do we really know about the and distribution of farms and family farms in the world?
Needless to say, I am extremely lucky to have learned everything I know about farming from these generous and supportive mentors. I spent the next year working at the farm as often as I could. After finishing my masters, I purchased a small herd of meat goats to help clear some overgrown areas on the farm and continued to learn as much as I could. I also teach agricultural law classes as an adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas and became as active as I could in the farming community.
Eventually, I reached a point where I was ready to take arguably the ultimate plunge as a beginning farmer — buying my own farm. If someone knows what they want to raise, then they need to get good advice on how much land they need for that species. In spring ofI met with a Farm Credit agent to figure out what I could afford. Some people prefer to start shopping before they obtain preapproval, but this can lead to heartbreak and a lot of wasted effort. Sellers also tend to take you more seriously if you have a preapproval letter in hand.
Before I met with Farm Credit, I made a very classic first-time-buyer mistake — I spent several hours combing the real estate sites salivating over gorgeous properties with tip-top fencing, palatial houses, and plenty of pasture. And, of course, 80 acres was the minimum acreage I was willing to consider. Once I completed the approval process, it was sobering to see the size and type of farm that I could realistically afford.
Most properties in my budget were raw land without fence or a place to live, and the places that hit close to 80 acres were at least 40 minutes from town where I work daily.
My search filters changed quickly. Over the next few months, I looked at every piece of farmland I could find that seemed remotely viable. I made sure to run each one by Wells and Morrow, and to bring at least one of them with me to a showing.
Viewing as many farms as possible was a tedious process, but in hindsight the more farms I explored the more I learned just how many factors you need to assess in determining whether that piece of land will work for you.
Soil health and fertility are of the utmost importance. Unlike buying a residential home on a quarter-acre lot in a suburb, farmland comes with exponentially more considerations and potential obstacles.
Here are six examples. How much will it cost to connect utilities? Is it even possible to get them connected? I spent a few weeks investigating one property only to learn that a northern neighbor refused to allow the water authority to place a pipeline across his property, leaving parcels to the south without the option of county water. I scratched that one off the list immediately. Does it have the right infrastructure or any infrastructure? Although you can always add things to a farm over time, I realized that most of my budget would be gobbled up by the land purchase.
I started to ask my realtor whether a property had barns, outbuildings, corrals, water systems or ponds before even driving out to view it. Properties that lacked any of these infrastructure items were soon crossed off my list. What kind of fencing will I need? Can I even afford to invest in fencing after closing? Most of the properties consisting of raw land lacked even a single fencepost, while the developed properties either had fences in poor condition or only intermittent fencing that needed a lot of updates. How far away from a town am I willing to live?
Although I am proud of the fact that I will purchase and operate my first farm as a single woman, it comes with some downsides. Of course, the farther from town a property is located the less expensive it tends to be. As I narrowed my filters to show me properties within a minute drive of town, I was shocked to see how little land I could now afford.
How much land can I handle, anyway? The entire process of searching for my first farm has been eye-opening, but this was the hardest slice of humble pie I had to swallow.
Would I be biting off more than I could chew at this stage in my life and as a beginning farmer? Will I be able to run a profitable farm business? Not all farms turn a profit in the first few years, but one of my goals is to have the farm business at least pay for the mortgage.
Morrow and Wells encouraged me to create a business plan, and I soon realized I needed something that would allow me to start running livestock within six months or less of closing.
After a few months into the search process, I had developed a long list of questions like this to help me assess a property before I got swept away by a gorgeous farmhouse or sunset view. The list of questions acted as a neutral guide to keep me on track — and within budget.
However, it left me with a list of farms that were the best possible matches for my budget and criteria. Also, without spending three years working at the type of operation that I ultimately wanted to run on my own farm, I would have had a hard time understanding these criteria or creating a business plan.
It was 24 acres, which was small by my standards, and mostly woods. The house was gorgeous, but the idea of only being able to run goats and a few head of cattle was a big turnoff.
Certainly, it would be settling to purchase a measly 24 acres and only run goats, I told myself. I want more. When you buy a used piece of precision ag technology, one of the first things you will need to do is make sure the firmware or software is By Lauren Manning. about Farmland. More Farmland. Overseas, harvested land is expanding faster than in the U. How they found a farm. Leading Harvest builds on its sustainability standard.
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