I've always been curious as to why "profit" in farming often seems to mean
something different than it does with most other enterprise. In
conventional accounting terms, profit (crudely stated) refers to that
which remains after the bills are paid, including wages to owners. Farm
families often talk about profit as the money left over after the farming
costs are paid, except their own incomes. Profit is not what remains
after they have paid themselves, but what they earn, period. Maybe this
is done because they don't really want to calculate how low that wage
really is; nevertheless, the use of the term profit often seems to have a
perjorative tone, as discussed below, when often it means simply trying to
make a living.
On Sun, 21 May 2000, Liz Pike wrote:
> From: "Roberto Verzola":
> > I notice you equate feeding your family with earning a profit.
> What's wrong with that?? Farming families do more than eat. I grow alot of
> our own food, but I do not grow flax to beat into thread to weave into
> fabric to clothe my family. I doctor them as much as I can, but they draw
> the line when I offer to sew them up ; )). And college these days isn't
> free. I must make a profit for things not provided on my farm. I grew up
> on farms. My grandparents all had them, and so did my father. All the
> farms were 6-10 acres, and totally supported the families. What they
> couldn't make on the farm, they sold excess crops to provide (read--earned a
> I'm quite weary of the dirty connotation the word "profit" has come to mean
> in "politically correct" circles. I'm a farmer, but also a business
> person who knows I won't be in business long if I don't turn a profit. I
> don't accept govt. subsidies, and at the end of the year if my bank balance
> is low--the buck stops right here--I only have myself to blame. But I also
> happen to be concerned with my land---yes, I want to leave it healthy for my
> kids or whoever inherits it, and I farm it likewise. I eat the food I grow
> on it. Thus I balance my ability to turn a dime on the dirt with the land's
> ability to supply that dime within reason.
> > I think raising (most of) your basic food needs is one key to better
> > economic viability for organic farms. Another key is to avoid debt.
> Economic viability for ANY farm entails more than just growing basic food
> needs. Organic growers must learn to market & be business people before they
> fog up their rose colored glasses with the romance of farming. Yes farming
> is romantic--at times--but it's a romance with a harsh reality. Earning a
> profit & staying in business is part of that reality.
> Liz Pike
> Morningstar Gardens
> Pollocksville NC
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