A farmer is a person who is engaged in agrarian business by using land. The term farmer usually applies to a person who grows field crops, orchards, vineyards or market gardens with a view to selling to others as food. They may, however, provide raw materials for industrial purposes such as grains for alcoholic beverages, fruit for juices, hides for leather, and wool or flax for yarns and cloth-making. Farmers may also be involved in rearing cattle for meat or milk. A farmer engaged in large scale cattle raising for meat is usually referred to as a rancher, grazier or stockman. The term dairy farmer is applied to those engaged milk production. A poultry farmer is one who concentrates on raising chickens, turkeys, domesticated ducks and geese, or is involved in egg production. A person who raises a variety of vegetables for market may be called a truck farmer or market gardener. Special terms apply to those who husband domesticated animals, namely shepherd for sheep farmers and goatherd for goat farmers. Often, a narrow range of crops or produce is sold for money with which the farmer buys everything else in a market. This is a lifeway that was the dominant occupation of the majority of human beings well into the 20th century.
In the context of developing nations or other pre-industrial cultures, most farmers practice a meager subsistence agriculture - a simple organic farming system with simple crop rotation or other techniques to maximize yield, using saved seed which is native to the ecoregion. In developed nations such a person using simple techniques on small patches of land might be called a gardener and be considered a hobbyist - or may be driven into such primitive methods by simple poverty. Or, ironically, in the context of large-scale agribusiness, be an organic farmer growing for discerning consumers in the local food market.
In developed nations, a farmer (as a profession) is usually defined as someone with an ownership interest in crops or livestock, and who provides labor or management in their production. Those who provide only labor but not management, and do not have ownership, are most often called farmhands , or, if they supervise a leased strip of land growing only one crop, as sharecroppers or croppers . In the context of agribusiness, a farmer can be almost anyone - and can legally qualify under agricultural policy for various subsidies, incentives and tax reliefs .
Because of this diversity of terms, and the availability of money for those who "qualify" as farmers, grower is a more neutral word for this lifeway.
The Dutch word for farmer is boer, from which the Boer people of South Africa took their name.
Farmers in fiction:
Farmer Giles of Ham, novel, J. R. R. Tolkien
Farmer In The Sky, science-fiction novel, Robert Heinlein
- Farmer Jones , whose animals revolt in George Orwell's Animal Farm
- Farmer McGregor, from The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.
Farmer Palmer, comic strip, Viz
- The Joad Family, from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- The Goodnoughs, from The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf
Fred Dagg, character created by New Zealand performer John Clarke
The Archers, radio serial, BBC
Last updated: 10-10-2005 01:55:11
Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46