Family farmers play significant role in eradicating world hunger | TSLN.com

Family farmers play significant role in eradicating world hunger

In celebration of the United Nations' 2014 International Year of Family Farming, South Dakota Farmers Union joins National Farmers Union (NFU) in highlighting the substantial impact family farmers have on world hunger and food security issues.

"With Thanksgiving approaching, we should all be thankful for the role our family farmers and ranchers play in eradicating world hunger," said Doug Sombke, S.D. Farmers Union President.

Earlier this year, South Dakota Farmers Union launched a campaign to highlight farm and ranch families from across the state by featuring the story of a different farm or ranch family each month.

"This was our way to spotlight the families behind the food, fiber and fuel we all consume. What better way to celebrate family farmers and ranchers than to share their stories," said Sombke.

To date, Farmers Union has highlighted four farm families. To read their stories and view a photo gallery of the farm and ranch families highlighted, visit http://www.sdfu.org.

Feeding more than 7 billion

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Family farms hold the responsibility of feeding more than 7 billion people, 805 million (one in nine) of which do not have enough food to lead a healthy life. One out of every six children is underweight, and poor nutrition causes nearly half (45 percent) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. Despite these staggering numbers, conditions have dramatically improved in the last two decades, as prevalence of undernourishment has fallen from 18.7 to 11.3 percent globally.

"Family farming is the backbone of agriculture, not only in the United States, but worldwide," said National Farmers Union President, Roger Johnson. "The role family farmers play in addressing hunger, health and food security issues in both the U.S. and around the world, though not always adequately recognized, is significant."

According to the recent Census of Agriculture, 87 percent of U.S. farms are owned by families or individuals, and in 2012 there were 2.1 million farms in the U.S, with an average farm size of 418 acres. But according to that same census, those numbers of farms are falling, down more than four percent from 2007, while the average farm size has continued to grow.

Johnson noted the solutions family farms offer to solving hunger and health issues around the world. Smallholder farmers consistently have healthier soil and larger yields, and those who have diversified their crops have been most successful in increasing consumption of nutrient-dense foods. "Healthier food production leads to a healthier planet," said Johnson. "Family farms provide a model for the world to diminish major health and hunger issues."

–S.D. Farmers Union