Farming as a business

Jan 4, 2024 | Uncategorized

Not sure how, but I came across this article from Clarence Carson (1926-2003) a historian and author on economics, which he wrote in 1986. Mind you this was written 37 years ago.

I thought it was a compelling thought process on how we often view and treat farms and ranches as lifestyles vs typical businesses. His angle was that of government assistance in agriculture being more common and accepted than other sectors. I’m not presenting this summary with any political motivations, rather as a summary of how we can view ag operations through a business lens. And, to let you formulate your own opinion on these matters.

Here’s my summary of Carson’s article:

Farming, often seen as a unique sector with its own set of challenges, is fundamentally a business, just like running a gas station or any other enterprise. This perspective is essential to understand the current state of agriculture and the debates surrounding it.

The Spotlight on Farming vs. Other Businesses

Unlike the struggles of gas station operators, which have largely remained out of the public eye, farming has consistently attracted significant attention and sympathy. Historically, farming has been a focal point for government intervention, with numerous policies and programs aimed at supporting farmers through various means like loan programs, subsidies, and market regulations. This contrast highlights a peculiar situation where farming, although a business, has been treated differently from other sectors.

The Evolution of Farming

Farming has evolved significantly over the years. The nostalgic image of the small, diverse family farm has largely given way to more commercialized, specialized operations. This change challenges the notion that farming is distinct from other businesses. Like other entrepreneurs, farmers deal with risks, market fluctuations, and the need for efficient production, aiming for profit.

The Misconception of Farming as a Unique Sector

The article argues that the perception of farming as a unique sector needing special government support is based on a faulty premise. Farmers, like other business people, compete in the market. Government interventions, often aimed at manipulating prices or production, can lead to market distortions and are not necessarily beneficial in the long run.

The Real Solution for Farming

The author suggests that the solution for farming lies not in short-term government fixes but in treating it as a business. This approach involves reducing government burdens and allowing farmers to compete freely in the market. By acknowledging farming as a business and treating it accordingly, we can address the real challenges faced by farmers and help the sector thrive.


It’s time to view farming through the lens of business principles. This approach not only aligns farming with other sectors but also opens up possibilities for more sustainable and effective solutions, grounded in economic realities rather than sentimental views of agriculture.

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