February 14, 2016

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Future of farming

Published 10:24 am Tuesday, March 12, 2013

According to farmland.org, from 2002-2007 the last reportable period there were 4 million acres in the United States converted from agricultural land to some form of developed usage, an area about the size of Massachusetts.

There are approximately 2.3 billion acres of land in the U.S., and the United States Department of Agriculture estimates roughly 922 million acres are considered farmland.

In Sundays State Journal, we printed the first of what will be a yearlong series looking at one local farming family, Bruce and Charlotte Quarles, who live on Old Owenton Road.

At their farm, the two farms they own with their two sons and two other farms they rent, this farming family works 365 days a year raising cattle, sheep, hay, corn, tobacco and soybeans.

They are typical of many farm families in the Midwest today Charlotte works full time and helps on the farm, Bruce farms full time, and their sons, Steven and Travis, hold down full-time jobs while also farming.

The boys farm part time, but we are sure it must feel like full time.

The Quarles family is also typical in that today, 349 million acres in this country are in crops, with 80 percent of that land being used for corn, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat.

The 2010 U.S. Census shows the number of farms in the U.S. actually increased; what decreased was the average size of farms. Today, 54 percent of all farms are 99 acres or less.

The Census shows that in Kentucky, the number of farms decreased from 90,000 to 86,000 from 2000 to 2010, while the number of acres farmed remained the same, at 14 million. The average acres per farm increased from 152 to 163.

Anyone who has lived in Frankfort/Franklin County for very long has seen significant urban development, with numerous shopping centers and subdivisions now standing on former farmland.

The most recent example is Parkside, an expansive development on the east end of town next to Interstate 64 that is anchored by Kohls and also home to a large apartment complex.

While we promote the saving of our nations farmlands, developments are necessary for commerce, and there are few arguments against the paving of farmland next to an interstate exchange, except from the most fervent of tree huggers.

Though we often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life our mere existence tied to our cell phones it is good to remind ourselves that Franklin County still has a significant number of farms, businesses related to farming, and men and women toiling the soil raising crops, vegetables and animals.

Life has never been easy on a farm, and the economy and weird weather patterns of late have not helped.

We look forward to spending more time with Bruce and Charlotte Quarles over the next year, discovering what a local family does to make ends meet, keep their family farm going and provide much-needed farm products to our country.