Fun Facts About Farm Size

4 thoughts on “Fun Facts About Farm Size”

  1. I have to say I disagree with you on a few points. In Saskatchewan (Western Canada) the average farm size is about 1,300 acres. This size is actually very small, and is distorted by thousands of Canadians who farm for a hobby, not for a living. In contrast, our farm is 10,000 acres in size. This farm sustains three families and one full-time employee, as well as two seasonal employees. From personal experience as a farmer and as a sales agronomist with a chemical retailer, I do not agree that our farm has that much of an advantage over my smaller neighbours. We cannot purchase inputs any cheaper than small farms can, and our equipment costs are actually very similar. We actually have less access to credit options from the government, since these max out far below what our farm requires. Our ability to effectively market our crops is no better than smaller farms, as they have the same access we do to market analysts and consultants that we do.

    Conversely, I believe larger farms (to a certain point, of course) do a better job of managing the environment than smaller ones. Larger farms tend to be more progressive in new ideas, such as minimum tillage in Western Canada, and are generally more aware of their cost of production (they have to be, since the price tag can become substantial). Because larger farms know their cost of production, they will usually carefully consider every tonne of fertilizer and every jug of pesticide required, to keep costs as low as possible without compromising yield.

    I realize I’m generalizing on a few points here, but I take this from my experience as a larger grower and my knowledge of friends’ and neighbours’ operations in my area. I think enacting policies to give smaller farmers more advantages is unfair and goes against free markets.

    Final note: I am commenting on modern agriculture in Western Canada; I cannot discuss small-scale farming in the third world because I do not have experience with it.

    Your blog is interesting and I will be reading more of it!

    1. Ah that is such an interesting perspective! Thanks for the insights! I agree that this small vs. big debate is very much on the fringes of the spectrum (talking about <2 ha vs. thousands) and that a lot of the conclusions may be different in a different context. I'm particularly intrigued by your point about the environment – I'd like to look into that further, also into the pros and possible cons of precision farming. Thanks for reading and welcome to the blog!

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