Rural farmers outweigh the number of urban farmers

By Danielle Kleitsch Reporter

  Only two percent of America’s population are farmers, according to the American Farm Bureau Federations. Of these farmers 97 percent are family-owned. South Dakota is part of these statistics. Of the farmers in South Dakota the majority are rural, meaning they farm in rural areas versus urban areas.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s definition of a farm is any place where $1,000 of agriculture products are produced and sold. Rural farmers can grow a variety of crops and produce. Some crops are corn soybeans, wheat and rye. Generally, rural farmers focus on growing a lot of one crop instead of a little of all the crops. 

Rural farmers can also raise livestock including hogs, dairy cattle, beef cattle, sheep, goats and chickens. When a person raises livestock they are considered a rancher. The growing of crops and produce is known as farming. If a person both grows crops and raises livestock they are a farmer and a rancher.

Farming is not only raising livestock and growing crops. Farmers help prevent corrosion of the earth by practicing crop rotation and utilizing water ways. Over half of America’s farmers provide habitat for wildlife, Farm Bureau said. Ranchers must care for their animals and if a calf is lost due to bad weather, they have to say “Maybe next year”. Farmers and Ranchers don’t work eight to five.

Urban farmers grow produce or raise livestock in or around urban areas. Urban farmers generally focus on growing produce for human consumption instead of livestock. Livestock for Urban Farmers consists of rabbits, chickens, goats and bees according to Urban Farming Online. In order to raise livestock in urban areas, the owner must get a license from the city. Neighbors must also be okay with the livestock too. In rural areas this is uncommon, except when it comes to hogs. 

Urban Farming can often get confused with a community garden or simply growing your own food in the city, according to Greens Grow Farms. The difference is community gardens and personal gardens are grown for your personal consumption. For a person to have an urban farm, they must be growing food or livestock to sell. There is generally no selling of produce in a community garden. The produce there is grown for personal consumption.

Farmers both urban and rural take produce and homemade goods to the Farmer’s Market. Some vendors go on both Saturday and Wednesday. Others only go on either Saturday or Wednesday. The Farmer’s Market on Wednesday is from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

On Saturday at 8 a.m. in the Brookings City Plaza, a group of vendors gathered for the Farmer’s Market ready to sell their home grown or home made goods. The Farmer’s Market has a variety of goods from the expected produce: tomatoes, peppers, beans, and corn, to mixing chip dips, honey, eggs and organic bread. The vendors come from in and around Brookings.

LeAnn Carper, a Farmer’s Market vendor, came from Rutland, S.D. At her booth there was a variety of produce including cucumbers, carrots, beans, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and sweet corn. 

“We grow everything on about 20 acres,” Carper said. The Carper’s are one of the families who live the farthest away. Rutland is a small rural community making the Carper’s rural farmers.