What is a mega-farm, really? Good question.
You’ve probably heard that term thrown around on the news before, but have you ever thought about what it means?
Unfortunately, it’s been used to attack family farms in South Carolina lately without context or definition. The truth is, the majority of the time when it is used, it is completely misattributed. Recent controversy over a potato farm in Aiken County has seen the use of this term used over and over again. But the fact is, there are hundreds of generational, family owned farms in this state that are as big or bigger than this one.
So, the term is basically being used incorrectly for political purposes to scare you.
Scott Downey , a Purdue Ag Economist who has spent years working with — let’s just call them large-scale farmers — cringed when I pointed it (a newspaper headline) out to him later on.
“I have yet to meet a large farmer who calls himself a megafarmer,” Scott told me. “They refer to themselves as farmers or businessmen.”
Fact is, no one has ever done a good job defining what the differences are between farms of different size. Some of the smallest farms by acreage may make more money than the typical farm down the road with 4,000 acres.
To be labeled a megafarm often discounts the fact that many farms are now multi-generation with three or four families to support. Why, then, should a farm with 5,000 acres be labeled •megafarm’ when it has the equivalent amount of acreage typical for one farm family?
“The connection between family and farming is still important and what makes ag strong,” says Downey.
Factory farm is another label the mass media and animal activists love to use. It is more damaging than megafarm, simply because it implies less-than-humane treatment for livestock.
“If I was in the livestock business I’d run away from the factory farm label just because of all the connotations associated with it,” says Downey. “There are better ways to portray themselves.”
How about: “businessman?”
In South Carolina, there are thousands of farms ranging from a few dozen to a few thousand acres, and 98 percent of them are family owned and operated. Learn more about the farms in our state on our blog.
SC farmers are being threatened by special interest groups who are using fear tactics like this to push lawmakers to pass laws that could cause farmers to loose their crops. We need you to contact your legislators to let them know you support SC farmers.