What’s in a Name? Farmer, Rancher, Grower…and more!

A royalty free image from the farming industry of a farmer couple using a tablet computer.

[Note: I first wrote this article almost twenty years ago. Recent discussions I’ve been following in various groups prompted me to dig it out and brush it off for a new generation.]



“When will I be a farmer?”

Mother and son on horsebackI get asked this question fairly often. It often means either “When should I start filing a farm income tax form?” or “When will I be accepted and identified in my community as a farmer?” or sometimes, “When will my inlaws start taking me seriously?” Depending on the circumstances the answers are often similar. There is no magic formula or right-of-passage that will transform you into a “farmer”.

Language is a powerful tool. It can be used to unite or it can divide and promote conflict. For example, historically there have been divisions created between eastern farmers (who cultivate the land) and western ranchers (who graze livestock). Agricultural policies have, at various times, tended to favor one group over the other creating categories of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, setting up regional rivalries and emphasizing differences rather than the similarities.

woman, barn and cowLikewise in the northeast the term ‘farmer’ is often used to describe those who have livestock while the term ‘grower’ is more commonly used to describe those whose primary crops are fruits, vegetables, flowers and plants. As for greenhouses, gardens, orchards, vineyards and agricultural tourism – we have a lot of descriptive titles for the stewards of these businesses, all of which serve to create special niches and delineate specializations in our agricultural industries. And then we have production system labels such as organic, sustainable, and conventional that, are too frequently used to divide rather than to unite.

In a time when less than 2% of the US population is identified as farmers and ranchers, maybe we need to welcome all those who are willing to be counted and let the market determine the rest.

woman on fence drinking waterSo, how about this?

  • You are a farmer when a bad year requires you to make some hard choices about your lifestyle and your business.
  • You are a rancher when you accept that more production variables are out of your control than within it and you choose to continue anyway.
  • You are a grower when you take pride in the quality, freshness and health of your product and when you know your customers have made a wise decision in choosing to do business with you.
  • You are a farmer/rancher/grower when someone refers to you as a farmer/rancher/grower and that causes you to stand straighter and feel proud.
  • You are a farmer when you know, in your heart, that no other profession will fit you as well.
  • You are a farmer when you choose to accept the title.

To all of you who are farmers/ranchers/growers…welcome! May your career choice bring you joy for 100 years.

And in the spirit ongoing learning, I’d love to hear what name you give yourself and your profession? Please share!!

Posted in Culture and Society, Quality of life | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on What’s in a Name? Farmer, Rancher, Grower…and more!

Name that Conference!

Calling all brilliant, creative women farmers, ranchers and sustainable agriculture advocates: 2013 Women in Ag ConferenceSubmit a super theme, tagline and/or logo for the 2016 Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference. The conference will be held in Portland Oregon, and is being organized by a multi-state team led by Oregon State University.

Your theme, tagline and/or logo should reflect the multi-faceted role women play in sustainable agriculture, and honor the Northwest character.

Inspiration could come from the city of Portland, the diversity of women farmers, or the crops for which we are known!

The winner(s) will get bragging rights, the opportunity to promote their farm through our conference, media and marketing materials, AND a full scholarship for registration to the Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference to be held November 30-December 2, 2016 in Portland.

Email your submission or questions to Outreach Committee chair Ariel Agenbroad at ariel@uidaho.edu. We can’t wait to see what you share!



Posted in Upcoming events... | Comments Off on Name that Conference!

Changes to Vermont’s Current Use Program

During the 2015 legislative session, the Vermont legislature made a number of changes to the law affecting the Current Use (Use Value Appraisal) Program. They include provisions for the following:

  • A new calculation for the Land Use Change Tax (LUCT) (beginning Oct. 2, 2015)
  • A temporary “easy-out” period in which landowners can remove a parcel, or portion of a parcel, without paying the full LUCT liability (between July 1 and Oct. 1, 2015).
  • A new annual requirement for owners of agricultural lands and buildings to certify in writing on or before September 1 of every year that all enrolled agricultural land and buildings meet the requirements for enrollment at the time of the certification (form will be available in August).
  • Authority given to Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets to direct the Vermont Department of Taxes to remove agricultural land and farm buildings from the Current Use Program when the land or buildings are used by a person who has violated water quality requirements (beginning July 1, 2015).

For details on the changes to the Current Use Program, please see the following:

Fact Sheet: “Changes in the Law Affecting the Current Use Program in 2015”

Easy-Out Form CU-312: Application to Discontinue Land Through the “Easy-Out” Option

Posted in Business management, Farmland Transfer, Financial Management, Land Access | Comments Off on Changes to Vermont’s Current Use Program