Farm & Food Talk

Posted: August 17, 2018

Are most farms today factory or corporate farms?

Today, the vast majority of farms are still family owned. In Illinois, 97 percent are owned by individuals, family partnerships or family corporations. For these family farms, being stewards of the land and caretakers of their animals truly runs in their blood.

Do animals on small farms receive better care than on large farms?

The livelihood of livestock producers – whether large or small – depends on the health and well-being of their animals. Regardless of the size of the farm, caring for animals is a 24/7 job that requires knowledge, patience and the utmost devotion.

Are large farms bad for the environment?

Farm animal production in the United States has clearly shifted away from many small farms to an increasing number of larger farms.

Larger farms must comply with stricter environmental regulations than smaller farms and are often more able to employ people or hire consultants who specialize in these issues like manure management. Research shows larger farms use more comprehensive manure management practices than smaller farms.

Manure from farm animals when used as a fertilizer improves soil and increases crop yields. Farmers must apply manure properly and not allow it to reach water supplies and become a pollutant.

What type of farms are needed to feed the world?

America needs farms of all shapes and sizes to thrive. When some people think of big farms, they immediately believe they are “factory farms.” Often, large farms are deploying the most innovative processes in sustainability and animal welfare because they have the resources to do so. In addition, large farms can be better equipped to deal with growing regulatory requirements.

Large farms create economies of scale that can keep prices low. Agriculture employs 14 percent of
the U.S. workforce (or approximately 21 million people).

We need conventional, organic and all other types of farms to meet consumer needs. Organic farming can continue to develop sustainable practices that can be adopted more widely. At the same time, conventional practices are necessary to improve productivity to feed everyone. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, we must increase food production by 70 percent by 2050 to feed an estimated nine billion people.

Sources: The Food Dialogues,
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance,;
Best Food Facts,