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This vs. That: Family and Industrial Farms

You may have heard that there are family farms and corporate farms. If you’ve heard these two terms, you’ve probably also heard that one is good while the other is bad. It turns out, it’s not that simple.


Family farms are pretty much what they sound like: farms run by families. They are farms where the majority ownership of the farm belongs to a family. Though it may seem unexpected, these farms actually amount to almost all farms in the US, currently standing at around 97%. Family farms vary in size, going from extremely small to some of the biggest farms in the US. Being a ‘family farm’ doesn’t inherently make the farm any better than another, and can most often not differ at all from non-family farms.


Corporate farms are also pretty much what they seem: farms that are incorporated. Most often, these farms do not differ from family farms in any way except for the way the business aspect of the farm is run. For many farmers, incorporating their operation is the best decision, business-wise, that both protects them and allows them to develop. Most of the time, the incorporation does not change the quality of values of the farm, it simply changes the way it is managed.


Overall, there is not a big difference between the two. The labels simply define how and by whom the farm is run, and does not speak to the quality, sustainability, or ethical standing of the farm. To find that out, you’ll have to dig a little deeper!