U.N. Declares 2014 “International Year of Family Farming”
By Wendy Allen | Photos By FAO and A.K. Kimoto 0
There are 500 million family farms in the world, making this the predominant form of agriculture and, therefore, a critical player in the world’s quest for food security. Family farms grow 80 percent of the world’s food, says the Food and Agriculture Organization, yet “more than 70 percent of the food insecure population is made up of family farmers in rural areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Near East.”(1) How can this be?
The food and farming situation in our own United States isn’t exactly rosy, either. While the total number of U.S. farms remains relatively stable(2), our multi-generation, diversified, mid-size family farms are dwindling. The numbers are being replaced by smaller-production farms, often run by beginning farmers. So even though the numbers look fine (if not positive), our rural culture is at serious risk of losing the knowledge and experience those mid-sized-farm owners have passed down through the generations.
The issues surrounding family farming are widespread and vastly diverse, not just something happening in some vague “over there” place. It’s here and now and everywhere. For these reasons, the United Nations has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming to promote awareness and educate about the socio-economic, environmental and cultural roles family farming plays worldwide. Join the discussion on social media at the hashtag #IYFF14, and learn more at www.fao.org/family-farming-2014/en/.
2 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture (the most recent available)