Family farms are the largest employers of human capital in the world. Unlike factory farms, family farms are extremely sustainable and drastically mitigate hunger and poverty at the local level. However, governments tend to sanction legislation that prioritizes the interests of factory farms and fisheries, effectively excluding local producers from sustaining their communities. For this reason, the U.N. has outlined a decade-long plan lasting from 2019 to 2028 that expands the role and influence of family farmers around the world.
Family Farming Statistics
Despite being overshadowed by transnational food cooperations, family farms control more agricultural output and human capital than all factory farms combined. In fact, family farmers occupy 70-80 percent of global farmland and produce more than 80 percent of total global agricultural output. Furthermore, the U.N. estimates that there are approximately 570 million family farms operating around the world, mostly employing people who live in absolute poverty.
The Sustainability of Family Farming
A typical representation of family farming would be similar to that portrayed in Little House on the Prairie. However, this all-encompassing term defined by the U.N. includes mountain farmers, family foresters, pastoralists, indigenous people, local fisheries, hunters and gatherers. Local producers know how to navigate their land and waterways effectively and do so with great reverence since many trace ancestral and historical significance to the land they farm and the waters they fish. In doing so, they preserve the biodiversity of their communities and amend farming techniques to sustain the productive capacity of their local environments.
Furthermore, rural farming expands local economies by providing jobs in various services that accompany the line of agricultural production; family farming encompasses the help of all members of the community. In this communal effort, family farmers also tend to reject artificial growth products made specifically for mass food production, such as dangerous pesticides that result in fatal consequences for the environment.
The Decade of Family Farming: Elevating the Status of Family Farmers
The Decade of Family Farming sets forth an agenda for countries to develop policy and investment strategies aimed at generating sustainable development and prioritizing the interests of family farmers. Meanwhile, the U.N. hopes that the Decade of Family Farming will also mitigate the projected consequences of environmental deterioration by revitalizing local ecosystems. The action plan consists of seven central pillars that incorporate several dimensions of social, political and economic life to achieve such goals:
- Pillar 1: Renewing policy and establishing links between the private and public sectors to develop investment strategies.
- Pillar 2: Educating rural youth about the importance of family farming and encouraging them to maintain their traditional farming practices.
- Pillar 3: Elevating the status of women in farming communities and providing them with access to the management of land, information and financial resources.
- Pillar 4: Championing the voices of family farmers and expanding their influence in the political arena via family farming organizations.
- Pillar 5: Enhancing the welfare of family farmers and establishing social protection systems.
- Pillar 6: Promoting farming practices that will protect food supply from the uncertainties of an impending climate catastrophe.
- Pillar 7: Protecting regional ecosystems and expanding the diversity of job opportunities in the farming-based service sector.
The Decade of Family Farming is a multi-faceted program that encompasses the betterment and sustainability of the biosphere through protecting the environment, culture, local economies, social life, politics and food resources. It is up to the cooperation of the government and the private sector to ensure the realization of these proposals.
– Grayson Cox