WIUM Tristates Public Radio

How Do You Define What It Means to be a Farmer?

Mar 19, 2015

How do you define a farmer?

A. A person who does the physical labor to plant a crop.

B. A person who pays for everything it takes to run a farm.

C. A person who owns farmland.

D. All of the above.

It’s a tricky question. For over two decades, the government’s definition of who is an “actively engaged farmer” has been criticized for being too loose and subjective - a loophole allowing farm operations to add investors to their business so they can rake in extra money in farm program payments.

That money comes out of taxpayer’s pockets – and in some cases has gone to the bank accounts of billionaires.

Now, the USDA is in the process of tightening up the definition and I'm working on a story about it. I've spoken with government officials, policy makers, economists and advocates - many of whom live and work hours away from a farm. Now, I want to hear from you.

FARMERS, what makes you a farmer?

Is it about having dirt under your nails? Or being good at marketing your crop?

How blurred is the line between farmer and businessman? How do you structure the business of your farm?

Are you worried about the new definition of being "actively engaged" impacting the size of your subsidy check?

Are subsidies a hassle or do you depend on them to keep your farm afloat?

Are you concerned about bigger farm operations taking advantage of the loophole and gobbling up farmland around you? 

How will this impact your farming operation?

If you want to share your thoughts, you can leave us a note here. You can also email me directly at: awendle@harvestpublicmedia.org