American Roots: Abe Lincoln & Agriculture On May 15, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation creating the United States Department of Agriculture. …
Family Farms: The Core of the American Economy
There are over 2 million farms in the US and about 96% of them have one key thing in common:
they are owned by families.
According to the 2017 Census on Agriculture released by the National Agricultural Statistics
Service of the US Department of Agriculture, 88% of these family farms are small, and their gross cash
farm income (GCFI) is under $350,000. Most small farms are in the South and New England states, while
mid and large-scale family farms can be found in the Midwest and the Northern Plain states. In most cases,
farming is these families’ primary occupation, meaning it is also their main source of income; however,
many require off-field salaries to sustain their business
After the Homestead Act of 1862 was signed by President Lincoln, lands were provided for new
settlers to exploit and work. Even though speculation and misuse of these lands soon became an issue,
the Act, although no longer in effect, set the basis for the rise of small family-owned farms. They
eventually grew in size and importance as agriculture became increasingly industrialized during the 20th
century. Today’s new technological advancements have altered the way family farm owners invest and
manage their lands, allowing them to optimize their processes and deliver better products to the general
Stepping up to the challenges
American farms remain at the heart of the country’s economy. They are a vital market that,
although challenged by massive competitors, remains an important cornerstone to what the nation
represents. Many values are synonyms to farm labor – hard work, patience, persistence –, but one must
never make the mistake of glamorizing the daily struggles that farm owners experience. The reality is,
family farms are constantly tested due to events at the local, national and global level. Influencing factors
range from the climate to international crises, all unintentionally cascading into an immediate or long-term
concern, creating complex situations that stall production, influence markets and highlight the
delicate state some small farms are in.
However, one thing is for certain: family farms continue fighting. They have adapted to the
challenges over the last century, which have been rapid and sudden in many cases. Things people were
accustomed to fifty years ago are quite different from today’s reality, not just regarding societal issues,
but especially around areas such as sustainability and technology. Climate change and global policies have
shifted the perspective on how we can exploit and utilize our natural resources, serving as an impetus to
develop better solutions and innovations that, although aimed to improve quality of life, can sometimes
be expensive or downright alien to many who have kept working in a more traditional form. This, however,
should not be a detriment to anyone; these new tools are there to benefit the many family businesses
that continue moving forward.
Numbers can show a lot, but they cannot portray what goes on behind the scenes. At the end of
the day, statistics and data show us just a minimal part of what running a small business means, and fail
to demonstrate the nuances, struggles, and success stories that occur in the fields across the US. Family
farms are a true example of hard work and remind us of that rewarding feeling you get from a job well
done and the importance of community. They are the centerpiece of our economy; a stable agricultural
industry makes for a stable nationwide economy. However, small and mid-size family farms still require
better markets to become competitive not only at the local level but also at a regional and state levels,
depending on their production size. This growth is beneficial for all, as it pushes local exchange and
movement at a larger scale, creating revenue for the business itself and the community, while also
becoming a source of new jobs.
Increasing the quality of our food systems is also something that family farms do, an aspect that
is sometimes overlooked and directly impacts the way we purchase our produce, dairy, and meats. Large-scale
industrial production has taken over the food market, relegating family farms as a secondary source.
This issue is not only associated with the economics of supply and demand but most importantly with our
health; the chemical intervention to many products, although meant to improve their quality and
durability, still makes for a non-natural source of nutrients. Conversely, the minimal to no alterations to
food grown within a small or medium-size farm becomes a healthier choice based on organic production
and sustainable practices.
There is much to do around policies, budgeting, and resources allocation. However, the best thing
we can do as consumers to support these businesses to continue to provide the products we put on our
tables is through our own purchasing power. Choosing local produce, visiting fairs, recommending,
sharing, all create the visibility they need.
Our commitment as VISCOSITY Oil will continue to be the development of better, more efficient
solutions that will impact production for the best. Our industry carries its challenges, but for over 125
years we have been able to continue working and adapting to keep providing our customers with the best
solutions for their agricultural equipment, regardless of model and external conditions. We have become
a trusted option, one that has found its niche in a field that requires a high degree of specialization,
dedication, and reliability. The partnerships we have developed through the years are just as important
as our products’ design, and this collaboration is key to achieve a deeper understanding of what our
consumers need and demand from us as we keep working in fluid motion together.
Support your local family farms and businesses and keep building the strong communities that are
the pillars of our country. Browse our products section to find the best choice for your equipment, and
remember to ask our team about our Everlub SOLUTIONS so you can continue running your operations in
fluid motion with the best quality formulations and tools. Ask your local dealer for our portfolio or contact
us directly to keep moving fast, fluid, and forward with us.