A farmer (also called an agriculturer) is a person engaged in agriculture
, raising living organisms for food or raw materials. The term usually applies to people who do some combination of raising field crops
, or other livestock
. A farmer might own the farmed land or might work as a laborer on land owned by others, but in advanced economies, a farmer is usually a farm
owner, while employees of the farm are known as farm workers, or farmhands. However, in the not so distant past, a farmer was a person who promotes or improves the growth of (a plant, crop, etc.) by labor and attention, land or crops or raises animals (as livestock or fish).
Over 1/2 billion farmers are smallholders
, most of whom are in developing countries, and who economically support almost two billion people.
Globally, women constitute more than 40% of agricultural employees.
Farming dates back as far as the Neolithic
, being one of the defining characteristics of that era. By the Bronze Age
, the Sumer
ians had an agriculture specialized labor force
by 5000–4000 BCE, and heavily depended on irrigation to grow crops. They relied on three-person teams when harvesting in the spring. The Ancient Egypt
farmers farmed and relied and irrigated their water from the Nile
, the practice of rearing animals specifically for farming purposes, has existed for thousands of years. Dog
s were domesticated in East Asia about 15,000 years ago. Goat
s and sheep
were domesticated around 8000 BCE in Asia
. Swine or pigs
were domesticated by 7000 BCE in the Middle East
. The earliest evidence of horse
domestication dates to around 4000 BCE.
Advancements in technology
In the U.S. of the 1930s, one farmer could only produce enough food to feed three other consumers. A modern-day farmer produces enough food to feed well over a hundred people. However, some authors consider this estimate to be flawed, as it does not take into account that farming requires energy and many other resources which have to be provided by additional workers, so that the ratio of people fed to farmers is actually smaller than 100 to 1.
More distinct terms are commonly used to denote farmers who raise specific domesticated
animals. For example, those who raise grazing livestock, such as cattle
s, and horse
s, are known as ''ranchers''
'' (Australia & U.K.), or simply ''stockmen''. Sheep, goat, and cattle farmers might also be referred to respectively as ''shepherd
s'', and ''cowherd
s''. The term ''dairy
farmer'' is applied to those engaged primarily in milk production, whether from cattle, goats, sheep, or other milk producing animals. A ''poultry farmer'' is one who concentrates on raising chicken
s, or geese
, for either meat
, or feather
production, or commonly, all three. A person who raises a variety of vegetables for market may be called a ''truck farmer'' or ''market gardener''. ''Dirt farmer'' is an American colloquial term for a practical farmer, or one who farms his own land.
In developed nations, a farmer (as a profession) is usually defined as someone with an ownership interest in crops or livestock, and who provides land or management in their production. Those who provide only labor are most often called ''farmhands''. Alternatively, growers who manage farmland for an absentee landowner, sharing the harvest (or its profits) are known as ''sharecropper
s'' or ''sharefarmers''. In the context of agribusiness
, a farmer is defined broadly, and thus many individuals not necessarily engaged in full-time farming can nonetheless legally qualify under agricultural policy
for various subsidies
, incentives, and tax deduction
In the context of developing nation
s or other pre-industrial cultures, most farmers practice a meager subsistence agriculture
—a simple organic-farming
system employing crop rotation
, seed saving
, slash and burn
, or other techniques to maximize efficiency while meeting the needs of the household or community. One subsisting in this way may become labelled as a ''peasant
'', often associated disparagingly with a "peasant mentality
In developed nation
s, however, a person using such techniques on small patches of land might be called a gardener
and be considered a hobbyist
. Alternatively, one might be driven into such practices by poverty
or, ironically—against the background of large-scale agribusiness—might become an organic farmer growing for discerning/faddish consumers in the local food
Farmers are often members of local, regional, or national farmers' unions or agricultural producers' organizations and can exert significant political influence. The Grange
movement in the United States was effective in advancing farmers' agendas, especially against railroad and agribusiness interests early in the 20th century. The FNSEA
is very politically active in France, especially pertaining to genetically modified food
. Agricultural producers, both small and large, are represented globally by the International Federation of Agricultural Producers
(IFAP), representing over 600 million farmers through 120 national farmers' unions in 79 countries.
Youth Farming Organizations
There are many organizations that are targeted at teaching young people how to farm and advancing the knowledge and benefits of sustainable agriculture
was started in 1902 and is a U.S. based network that has approximately 6.5 million members, ages 5 to 21 years old, and is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture
of the United States Department of Agriculture
* The National FFA Organization
(formerly known as Future Farmers of America) was founded in 1925 and is specifically focused on providing agriculture education for middle and high school students.
* Rural Youth Europe
is a non-governmental organization for European youths to create awareness of rural environmental and agriculture issues, it was started in 1957 and the headquarters is in Helsinki, Finland
. The group is active
in 17 countries with over 500,000 participants.
Farmed products might be sold either to a market
, in a farmers' market
, or directly from a farm. In a subsistence economy, farm products might to some extent be either consumed by the farmer's family or pooled by the community.
There are several occupational hazards for those in agriculture; farming is a particularly dangerous industry. Farmers can encounter and be stung or bitten by dangerous insects and other arthropods, including scorpion
s, fire ants
, and hornets
. Farmers also work around heavy machinery which can kill or injure them. Farmers can also establish muscle and joints pains from repeated work.
The word 'farmer' originally meant a person collecting taxes from tenants working a field owned by a landlord. The word changed to refer to the person farming the field.
Previous names for a farmer were churl
* Agrarian society
* Corporate farming
* Family farm
* Farmers' market
* Landed gentry
* Organic farming
* Sustainable agriculture