What Message Do Seed Signs Send?

Telling Your Story

What does the non-farm community think when seed signs dot the edges of farm fields?

Published on: May 24, 2013

Most farmers would say the picture below illustrates a farmer's yield plot, used to determine which seed does the best in this environment. Some farmers would say this plot of land was chosen because it's highly visible to others.

It seems marking fields this way is a little like people buying name-brand clothing with a logo on them, and promoting their business.

But, what do the signs in this field look like to someone who is not familiar with farming?  Some people from outside agriculture think this illustrates a "corporate farm" with the land being owned by the seed company, and that company is raising the crops on this land. 

There is also a belief that there is vertical integration from the farm level to food processing – all the way into the grocery store. 

What does the non-farm community think when seed signs dot the edges of farm fields?
What does the non-farm community think when seed signs dot the edges of farm fields?

But there are a couple thought processes around the idea of corporate farming.  Besides thinking that seed companies own and farm the land, another thought process is that corporations make farmers buy their product and the farmer has next to no choice in what they purchase. 

In fact, the USDA reports that 96 to 98% of the 2.2 million farms in the United States are family farms.  Most people are very surprised to learn that only 2 to 4% of farmers are not family farms.  Likewise, most farmers might be surprised to learn that the public may think that their land is owned by a large corporation.

This brings to mind a question: how can we make sure our non-farm counterparts understand that for most farms, families make management and planting decisions?  It's a tough proposition, but certainly one that would further help consumers understand food production.

Leave a comment below with your thoughts – I would love to hear them.