By Landee Kieschnick

When I think of a family farm, hard work, nurturing and compassion come to mind. And, of course, lots of dirt.

All of these describe not just my 100-year-old family farm, but the 2.1 million farms and ranches in the United States.

Yet there’s a growing disconnect from agriculture. Two, three and sometimes four generations are removed from the farm as family members left to pursue other careers and a life in town.

Times have changed since then. Efficiency has improved. Tractors are bigger. And so are some farms.

But, like my family’s small operation and the many others scattered across the Lone Star State, most are still family farms.

That’s why these five farm facts are rooted in each family’s operation.

1. Food equals family.
Out of the 2.1 million farms and ranches, 99 percent are family-owned, according the United States Department of Agriculture. That’s a pretty strong statistic.

2. Food safety is key.
Farmers and ranchers don’t sacrifice your safety or theirs. They have families, too. They eat what they grow. And they care for the environment where their family, crops and livestock are raised.

3. Farming starts new generations.
Not all family farms stretch back four or five generations. Eighteen percent of family farms in the U.S. have started within the last 10 years, according to the USDA.

4. Farming means work.
And lots of it. In a profession that doesn’t really take a break, holidays, vacations and sick days are few and far between.

5. Everyone has a job.
Our family farms are a stronghold of the American work ethic. Everyone has a task. Knowledge is shared. Memories are made. And lessons are learned. All for the love of the land and future of the operation.

Family farms—big or small—play an essential role in growing our families and our economy. And they share a common ground of love, nurturing and faith.

Landee Kieschnick is the intern for Texas Farm Bureau’s Communications Division. She is a junior at Texas Tech University majoring in Agricultural Communications. Growing up on a family farm, her days consisted of stacking hay and driving a tractor.