What's Farm Typology?

5/4/2013 7:00 AM

with Lorraine Merrll/New in NH Ag logo

Typology is the study or systematic classification of types that have common characteristics.

The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) recently updated its farm typology for the first time in 15 years to reflect the impacts of inflation on both commodity prices and farm expenses.

ERS has adjusted the criteria from gross farm sales to gross cash farm income, to more accurately account for the growing number of production contract farms in the livestock and poultry sectors. ERS says the updated categories of farms also reflect the growth in farms with sales or income of more than $1 million a year.

The “Small Family Farms” category now includes all farms with income less than $350,000 (formerly $250,000 in the old typology). The category is further divided into low sales (under $150,000) and moderate sales ($150,000-$350,000), with sub-categories reflective of operators' main occupation in each.

Retirement farms are operated by owners retired from their primary occupation. Off-farm occupation farms, termed “residential/lifestyle farms” under the old typology, are farms where the owners have nonfarm primary occupations. Farm occupation farms are operated by owners whose primary occupation is farming.

Family farms include "any farm where the majority of the business is owned by the operator and individuals related to the operator." Nonfamily farms do not meet that criterion. Mid-size family farms are a new category, with sales between $350,000 and $999,000. Large-scale family farms include all family farms with $1 million or more in sales, divided into large farms with $1 million to $4,999,999, and very large farms covering all farms with sales of $5 million or more.

According to the 2007 Ag Census, 72 percent of New Hampshire's 4,166 farms reported under $10,000 in sales and 96 percent of all farms in the state were classified as small farms, with sales under $250,000. Still, that left 150 farms grossing more than $250,000 a year.

NOFA’s New Home

NOFA-NH (the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire) is moving from its cramped office on Park Street in Concord to a new home at New Hampshire Audubon's McLane Center, 84 Silk Farm Road, Concord, on June 1.

The organization will not only have a larger office space, but it will also have access to the meeting rooms and facilities at Audubon. NOFA-NH leaders say the move will enable the organization to expand its partnerships and educational programming and its ability to support New Hampshire organic farmers.

Voice Your Concerns

Farm Bill negotiations are heating up again in Washington and, for the first time in decades, New Hampshire has a member on a congressional agriculture committee.

U.S. Rep Annie Kuster, a Democrat representing New Hampshire’s 2nd District, met recently with a roundtable of Granite State farm, food and nutrition leaders to hear their concerns and priorities for the 2013 Farm Bill.

Now is a good time for farmers, conservationists and eaters to communicate with the congresswoman about their Farm Bill concerns and priorities. Call Kuster's Concord office at 603-226-1002 or send written comments by email through her congressional website: http://kuster.house.gov/.

Emerald Ash Borer

The public comment period on the emergency quarantine in response to the detection of emerald ash borer is open until May 8. The department's objective is to slow the spread of this federally regulated insect and minimize the damage and economic losses caused by EAB. The hope is that biological controls will be developed to help keep EAB in check.

Visit www.nhbugs.org to submit comments on the quarantine. Visitors to the site can also find information about EAB and the quarantine, and about other damaging forest insects and diseases; report suspect trees or insects and upload photos for identification; find information about compliance agreements for regulated businesses, and sign up to get emailed bug updates.

Lorraine Merrill is commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food.

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