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All in the Family

Dear Aggie,

I heard you only certify family farms – what does that mean?

Mom in Maine

Dear Mom,

Thanks for asking. We all want to support our nation’s farmers and I’m sure you’ve seen the growth in the use of this term in the marketplace – especially as a way to imply wholesome practices without any further evidence.

We define a family farm as follow (available in our definitions document here): “A farm rented or owned on which a family or individual owns the animals, is responsible for management decisions and participates in the day to day labor to manage the farm operation and its animals, and derives a share of the family’s or individual’s livelihood from that farm.”

Independent research shows family farms that own the animals on the farm, and have complete control of their management, offer the greatest potential for positive welfare and environmental management. Research also shows that family farms are more beneficial for the rural economy, helping to keep more money circulating in the local community – known among economists as the ‘multiplier effect’. This is because independent family farms tend to buy their supplies and services locally, thereby supporting a greater variety of local businesses.

It’s important to note that seeing “family farm” on a label means nothing in terms of production practices. In other words, an intensive indoor broiler chicken operation could just as easily market itself as a family farm. So if you want to support our nation’s family farmers and you care about how animals are raised, seek out a trusted third-party certification program like Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW or Certified Non-GMO by AGW.

Aggie and the AGW Team

Dear Aggie is an opportunity to ask farming and food questions. Have a question? Click on the mail icon on the right side, or email and submit your question to Dear Aggie!

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