Low wages, high costs: The survival of a small family farm

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 4:30 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - “I’ve lived here my whole life. I’ll be 70 next winter,” says farmer Craig Mold.

This year’s harvest is corn and soybean, but his family has been farming this land since the 1800s.

However, his generation might be the last.

“The average age of the farmer is about my age or just a little bit less,” said Mold. “With no one coming behind them, you’re going to see a major consolidation.”

Increasingly, small family farms are being snatchED up by industrial producers.

One reason - it’s too hard to turn a profit.

According to the USDA, In 2021, 51 percent of all farms had less than $10,000 in sales.

Mold says some years he only nets about 4 dollars in profit per acre.

That, plus there’s the exorbitant cost of staying operational.

“If you have to buy like say a combine harvester or something, a new combine with two heads on it will set you back almost a million dollars,” said Mold.

Indeed.com found the average farmer salary in the US is just $38 thousand dollars a year.

While Mold is hopeful they can sustain their operation, he’s not betting the family farm.

“One thing is, your heart has to be in it.  It’s not a job where you can take off weekends”