Love for Family Farming

Megan Smith, University of Maryland Dietetic Intern

Love for Family Farmers: Support the people responsible for producing food that fuels the world

            I come from a close family, and I would do almost anything for them. Like my family, food and nutrition are extremely important to me. So when I saw that this year's theme of World Food Day 2014 is Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth” I knew I wanted to combine my love for family and food, and write about these families and what they do for our world.

What is Family Farming?

            The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines family farming as family based agricultural activities linked to several areas of rural development. Family farmers take on the responsibilities of organizing, managing, and operating agricultural, forestry, fishery, pastoral, and aquaculture production sites. In other words, family farming is diverse. It can include fruit and vegetable farms, grain farms, orchards, livestock ranches, fisheries, and non-wood forest products farms.  Farm owners range from smallholder and medium scale farmers to peasants, indigenous peoples, and a large range of others groups from all over the world.

Relevance of Family Farming

            Not a small task, family farming is the most predominant form of food production agriculture in both developing and developed countries. In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 98% of the farms in the world are family-run farms. Additionally, the USDA 2012 Census of Agriculture reports that 3.2 million farmers operate 2.1 million acres of land to generate food and fuel for the United States and the entire world. Without family farms we would not be able to enjoy the various traditional and nutritious foods that we do today.

Importance of Family Farming

            FAO estimates that there are 803 million people who are hungry in this world. This means that these individuals do not have enough food to live active lifestyles. In many parts of the world, including the US, family farmers make up a large portion of these hungry individuals. Family farmers contribute to the fight against world hunger by managing their land to sustain high levels of productivity, often times despite a lack of resources, policies, and technologies. Additionally, family farmers, support the sustainable development of society. By running agricultural systems with diverse crops and traditional food products, family farming contributes to a nutritious and balanced diet as well as the safety of our world’s agro-biodiversity.


Support for Family Farming

            Group efforts by FAO’s 2014 International Year of Family Farming, Alliance to Feed the Future, and World Food Day USA and Canada strive to spread awareness and gain support for family farmers across the world. Numerous factors such as policy environment, access to land and natural resources, demographics, and economic and socio-cultural conditions effect the development and success of family farms. It is so important that farmers have support from organizations and even local communities, such as those mentioned above, that can help shape and implement policies that will be beneficial to family farming. By understanding family farming, how it is relevant, and why it is important, we can understand the significance of family farming in the fight against world hunger.

Knowledge is power and power can produce change. Visit Alliance to Feed the Future for more information about family farming, world hunger, and the future of our food supply. Help spread knowledge that will literally feed the world


2014 International Year of Family Farming: Main Messages

Family Farmers: Feeding the world, caring for the earth

What is Family Farming?

Did you Know? World Food Day

Family Farming: Building a Sustainable Future