By Stephen Janak
County Extension Agent – Ag/NR
It certainly is good to be back here in Colorado County after living out of a suitcase for what seemed like months. Since the first of June I have purchased a house, moved my fiancé (at the time) from Colorado to Colorado County, attended State 4-H Roundup in College Station, traveled back to Colorado to get married, moved out of my rent house and into the new house, and attended the Texas County Agricultural Agents Association annual meeting in Corpus Christi. To those of you who have tried to reach me, I apologize for the delay.
During my travels I had the opportunity to meet many new and interesting people, including some folks who were not familiar with Texas agriculture. At one point someone told me that all of the farms here in south Texas are “corporate farms.” This term “corporate farm” comes with a built-in negative connotation. Many people feel that all corporate farms are evil entities who seek to make huge profit margins with total disregard for the health of the land and the quality of the food they are producing.
I had to quickly correct this individual and let them know that the vast majority of farms throughout the United States, Texas, and Colorado County were not the “corporate farms” that people have in mind. According to the National Agricultural Statistic Service 2012 Census of Agriculture, only between two and four percent of farms in Colorado County and only 5.1% of farms nationwide were termed “corporate.” This means that 96-98% of the 1,575 farms in our county are family-owned and operated. Furthermore, nearly all of the farms classified as “corporate” are simply family partnerships that have incorporated for tax and liability reasons. These family partnerships are essentially no different than the original family farms – they have simply learned to be successful in the risky business of agriculture. All of the farmers in Colorado County take pride in their work, have a love for working the land, and are committed to producing high quality food and fiber.
I believe the misconceptions in agriculture stem from the ever-increasing disconnect between farmers and consumers. Here in Colorado County we take for granted the opportunity we have to interact directly with the people who grow our food. I guarantee that almost any farmer in our area would be happy to give you a tour of their operation.
So, the next time you sit down to a meal or put on that piece of cotton clothing, think about our local, hardworking farmers who made it possible. It is good to be back home, here among our local farms.