A growing number of U.S. farmers are opting to become part of the agribusiness movement, but are not making a quick buck.
In an effort to get their hands dirty, many are leaving the traditional business and opting for small, sustainable businesses, including a new breed of farm equipment and a new crop that grows in the desert.
While many of the companies are now growing on-farm, many of them are not.
A recent survey by the U.K. National Farmers Union found that just 9 percent of the nearly 3,000 respondents said they own a farm or agricultural business, while more than half of those who did own one did not make money from it.
The survey, conducted in 2017 and 2018, found that farmers were spending less money on equipment and equipment maintenance, which they were supposed to be doing anyway, as opposed to the amount of time and energy they were putting into cultivating their crops.
The poll also found that some farmers who were not interested in the business now were in it for the right reasons.
“I’m not the only one who feels that we are at the wrong place,” said Dan Sperling, who owns Sperlings Farm in a small rural community in northwest Oklahoma.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t see that, who are thinking we are doing it wrong and that we need to start again.”
Sperling grew up farming his father’s land in southern New Jersey.
Now, his father and son are growing wheat and barley together in the family’s home.
They are the first ones to open a farm in the state, and the first to grow their own vegetables.
The family has been growing their own produce since 2001.
But, for all their success, Spering said they are still not making money.
“We are not doing what we think we are,” he said.
“And that’s what I really worry about.”
Some of the big players in the agri-business movement, such as Dow Chemical and Monsanto, have grown their own farms.
Others, like Dow, have acquired smaller, sustainable, smaller farms.
But Sperning said many of his peers are choosing not to follow suit.
Sperlings is among them.
He grew up in a farm family, but he is now a small farmer.
He said he would never be in a position where he was the one with the big money, and he said his decision to leave the business had nothing to do with the price of the product.
He also said he believes that he would have been able to get a better return from his investments had he chosen to go in the farming business.
“We have a very large number of farms, but we have a small number of people making money,” Sperings said.
“And it would have made me happier, because it would be a different situation.”
Dow is now the largest agri product company in the world, and Sperles said that the company was trying to sell to a different kind of consumer.
“If we are selling a product that has to do more with the environment, it’s probably going to make people less environmentally conscious,” he added.
“I would say we have to sell our product in the same way we do with anything else, which is not to make money off of it, but just make money.”
“I really think that we will be a smaller company,” he concluded.
“But I really don’t want to go back to the way that I grew up.”
Sperings Farm is in the midst of a drought.
He has planted a few seeds this year, and is hopeful that they will be successful.
But he said that he could not imagine the business ever making enough money to sustain his family.