Caption: hris Boeckmann grows turkeys for Cargill on his Loose Creek, Mo., farm. But he also raises grass-fed all-natural beef for his private label. , Credit: Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media
Image by: Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media 
hris Boeckmann grows turkeys for Cargill on his Loose Creek, Mo., farm. But he also raises grass-fed all-natural beef for his private label.  

Who are you calling a corporate farmer?

From: Harvest Public Media Group
Series: Farmer of the Future
Length: 05:24

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Agriculture is a big business fueled by big businesses. And although farmers themselves still come in many sizes, the distinction between corporate ownership and family farmer is blurring.

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Who is the farmer of the future?

That’s the question being posed by Harvest Public Media this week in a weeklong series that explores how demographic, technological and cultural forces will shape America’s food producers into the next decade and beyond.

Agriculture is a big business fueled by big businesses. But farmers themselves still come in many sizes. In part four of the series, Peggy Lowe asks: who are you calling a corporate farmer?

Full Story:

Agriculture is a big business fueled by big businesses. But farmers themselves still come in many sizes. In part four of Harvest Public Media’s series on “The Farmer of the Future,” Peggy Lowe asks: who are you calling a corporate farmer?
…………………..
(Track1) Jump in Chris Boeckmann’s pickup with us and let’s stop at the first barn here on his property.
(FF1) “This is where the little birds are at. This is what we call the brooder barn. The pullets come in directly from the hatchery. We get them the same day they hatch.”
(Anncr) Boeckmann is a second-generation farmer in Loose Creek, Missouri, just 15 miles east of Jefferson City. He raises 50,000 turkeys each year in the confines of two huge barns.
(FF2) “This flock of turkeys in here is currently right at about 12, 12 ½ weeks. (loud clucking)”
(FF3/Track2) We’ve now entered a second, larger barn down the road. Stepping into it is a little startling – it’s enormous, much longer than a football field, and there are eleven-thousand birds in this barn alone.
(SFX, cackling)
(Track3) Boeckmann raises turkeys under a contract with Cargill, a huge multinational corporation and one of the top four producers of turkey in the country. The up side? He lessens his risk in a risky business and is assured a regular income. The down side? Boeckmann works under a strict contract that takes away a lot of, well, farming.
(FF4) “Kind of a common joke among poultry producers is that we’re just contracted labor and a lot of time it’s referred to as that. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the poultry industry or contract hogs or swine. Realize that the corporation owns the birds, so they have total control of genetics. They manufacture and make the feed. They have total control of nutrition.”
(Track40) Not only are a few huge companies in control of most markets, individual farms have grown dramatically in the last 20 years. Take the poultry industry, for example. Between 1987 and 2007, the size of farms grew by 127 percent. But here’s the funny thing – even while farm production was getting larger, the little guys snuck in the side door.
(FF5) “There’s seems to be a bifurcation. If you look at trends in the number of farms, we’re seeing an increase in the number of very large farms and the very rapid increase in the number of very small farms.”
(Track5) That’s Harvey James, an ag economics professor at the University of Missouri. He’s referring to the boom in what he calls alternative agriculture -- small, local operations that have created the popular farm-to-table and farmers markets movement. He credits this to Americans growing demand that their food be not only healthy, but produced in environmentally friendly ways or with production methods that consider animal welfare.
(Track6) And there’s plenty of potential in this new food culture, says James Richardson of the Hartman Group, a research and consulting firm for the food and beverage industries. His studies show that fresh food sales are growing significantly while packaged processed foods are stagnating.
(FF6) “We believe what is going on in American food culture has been a long-term shift towards wanting higher quality and fresher-tasting and fresher-feeling foods that do not have ingredient panels with 100 words on them.”
(Track7) Some consumers in this new food culture are turned off by the big guys and the term “corporate farming” is seen as killing the family farm. But here’s what those same consumers might not know: that term becomes a bit ambiguous out here in farm country, where a corporation might simply be a longtime family with a large crop or livestock operation. Incorporating the farm, the ag economist James says, is simply a legal way to protect the family.
(FF7) “People who work and run these large farms see themselves as farmers. They wear the cowboy boots, they have the hats. They’re in rural America. They’re the neighbors. It’s just a more rationalized large-scale operation.”
(Track80) A corporation in cowboy boots? That’s right. So let’s jump back into our farmer’s pickup and keep driving. Out beyond Chris Boeckmann’s huge turkey barns is 185 acres of pristine pasture…and a business that’s dramatically different than turkeys.
(FF8) moo.
(Track9) In addition to working as a corporate contract farmer, Boeckmann is now raising all-natural grass-fed beef and selling it to local customers, restaurants and grocery stores.
(FF9) “When I talk to people about the beef production, I get that exact reaction. ‘Well, aren’t you working both sides of the fence?’ And quite frankly, yeah, we are.”
(Track10) Since Boeckmann began selling the natural beef under, his customers are asking him for turkeys that are also produced without hormones and antibiotics. He can’t do it now, as his Cargill contract restricts him from raising any other birds than the company’s.
(FF10) “It’s something that in the long run, we might take a serious look at. Is that the direction we want to go? There’s obviously pros and cons and I don’t have the answer for that yet, where we intend to go. But it’s definitely something the consumers may drive us in one direction or another, over time.”
(Track111) So you could say he’s a two-fold corporate farmer – he has his work for Cargill…and Boeckmann Family Farms incorporated this year so he could sell beef under their private label. So who you calling a corporate farmer? Well, that definition is changing. So get used to the fact that a corporation – large or small -- may be producing even more of what you eat in the future. Peggy Lowe, Harvest Public Media.

Piece Description

Who is the farmer of the future?

That’s the question being posed by Harvest Public Media this week in a weeklong series that explores how demographic, technological and cultural forces will shape America’s food producers into the next decade and beyond.

Agriculture is a big business fueled by big businesses. But farmers themselves still come in many sizes. In part four of the series, Peggy Lowe asks: who are you calling a corporate farmer?

Full Story:

Agriculture is a big business fueled by big businesses. But farmers themselves still come in many sizes. In part four of Harvest Public Media’s series on “The Farmer of the Future,” Peggy Lowe asks: who are you calling a corporate farmer?
…………………..
(Track1) Jump in Chris Boeckmann’s pickup with us and let’s stop at the first barn here on his property.
(FF1) “This is where the little birds are at. This is what we call the brooder barn. The pullets come in directly from the hatchery. We get them the same day they hatch.”
(Anncr) Boeckmann is a second-generation farmer in Loose Creek, Missouri, just 15 miles east of Jefferson City. He raises 50,000 turkeys each year in the confines of two huge barns.
(FF2) “This flock of turkeys in here is currently right at about 12, 12 ½ weeks. (loud clucking)”
(FF3/Track2) We’ve now entered a second, larger barn down the road. Stepping into it is a little startling – it’s enormous, much longer than a football field, and there are eleven-thousand birds in this barn alone.
(SFX, cackling)
(Track3) Boeckmann raises turkeys under a contract with Cargill, a huge multinational corporation and one of the top four producers of turkey in the country. The up side? He lessens his risk in a risky business and is assured a regular income. The down side? Boeckmann works under a strict contract that takes away a lot of, well, farming.
(FF4) “Kind of a common joke among poultry producers is that we’re just contracted labor and a lot of time it’s referred to as that. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the poultry industry or contract hogs or swine. Realize that the corporation owns the birds, so they have total control of genetics. They manufacture and make the feed. They have total control of nutrition.”
(Track40) Not only are a few huge companies in control of most markets, individual farms have grown dramatically in the last 20 years. Take the poultry industry, for example. Between 1987 and 2007, the size of farms grew by 127 percent. But here’s the funny thing – even while farm production was getting larger, the little guys snuck in the side door.
(FF5) “There’s seems to be a bifurcation. If you look at trends in the number of farms, we’re seeing an increase in the number of very large farms and the very rapid increase in the number of very small farms.”
(Track5) That’s Harvey James, an ag economics professor at the University of Missouri. He’s referring to the boom in what he calls alternative agriculture -- small, local operations that have created the popular farm-to-table and farmers markets movement. He credits this to Americans growing demand that their food be not only healthy, but produced in environmentally friendly ways or with production methods that consider animal welfare.
(Track6) And there’s plenty of potential in this new food culture, says James Richardson of the Hartman Group, a research and consulting firm for the food and beverage industries. His studies show that fresh food sales are growing significantly while packaged processed foods are stagnating.
(FF6) “We believe what is going on in American food culture has been a long-term shift towards wanting higher quality and fresher-tasting and fresher-feeling foods that do not have ingredient panels with 100 words on them.”
(Track7) Some consumers in this new food culture are turned off by the big guys and the term “corporate farming” is seen as killing the family farm. But here’s what those same consumers might not know: that term becomes a bit ambiguous out here in farm country, where a corporation might simply be a longtime family with a large crop or livestock operation. Incorporating the farm, the ag economist James says, is simply a legal way to protect the family.
(FF7) “People who work and run these large farms see themselves as farmers. They wear the cowboy boots, they have the hats. They’re in rural America. They’re the neighbors. It’s just a more rationalized large-scale operation.”
(Track80) A corporation in cowboy boots? That’s right. So let’s jump back into our farmer’s pickup and keep driving. Out beyond Chris Boeckmann’s huge turkey barns is 185 acres of pristine pasture…and a business that’s dramatically different than turkeys.
(FF8) moo.
(Track9) In addition to working as a corporate contract farmer, Boeckmann is now raising all-natural grass-fed beef and selling it to local customers, restaurants and grocery stores.
(FF9) “When I talk to people about the beef production, I get that exact reaction. ‘Well, aren’t you working both sides of the fence?’ And quite frankly, yeah, we are.”
(Track10) Since Boeckmann began selling the natural beef under, his customers are asking him for turkeys that are also produced without hormones and antibiotics. He can’t do it now, as his Cargill contract restricts him from raising any other birds than the company’s.
(FF10) “It’s something that in the long run, we might take a serious look at. Is that the direction we want to go? There’s obviously pros and cons and I don’t have the answer for that yet, where we intend to go. But it’s definitely something the consumers may drive us in one direction or another, over time.”
(Track111) So you could say he’s a two-fold corporate farmer – he has his work for Cargill…and Boeckmann Family Farms incorporated this year so he could sell beef under their private label. So who you calling a corporate farmer? Well, that definition is changing. So get used to the fact that a corporation – large or small -- may be producing even more of what you eat in the future. Peggy Lowe, Harvest Public Media.