Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture-related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.Most Harvest Public Media stories begin with radio- regular reports are aired on member stations in the Midwest. But Harvest also explores issues through online analyses, television documentaries and features, podcasts, photography, video, blogs and social networking. They are committed to the highest journalistic standards. Click here to read their ethics standards.Harvest Public Media was launched in 2010 with the support of a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Today, the collaboration is supported by CPB, the partner stations, and contributions from underwriters and individuals.Tri States Public Radio is an associate partner of Harvest Public Media. You can play an important role in helping Harvest Public Media and Tri States Public Radio improve our coverage of food, field and fuel issues by joining the Harvest Network.

How Do You Define What It Means to be a Farmer?

Grant Wood
"American Gothic"

How do you define a farmer?

A. A person who does the physical labor to plant a crop.

B. A person who pays for everything it takes to run a farm.

C. A person who owns farmland.

D. All of the above.

It’s a tricky question. For over two decades, the government’s definition of who is an “actively engaged farmer” has been criticized for being too loose and subjective - a loophole allowing farm operations to add investors to their business so they can rake in extra money in farm program payments.

That money comes out of taxpayer’s pockets – and in some cases has gone to the bank accounts of billionaires.

Now, the USDA is in the process of tightening up the definition and I'm working on a story about it. I've spoken with government officials, policy makers, economists and advocates - many of whom live and work hours away from a farm. Now, I want to hear from you.

FARMERS, what makes you a farmer?

Is it about having dirt under your nails? Or being good at marketing your crop?

How blurred is the line between farmer and businessman? How do you structure the business of your farm?

Are you worried about the new definition of being "actively engaged" impacting the size of your subsidy check?

Are subsidies a hassle or do you depend on them to keep your farm afloat?

Are you concerned about bigger farm operations taking advantage of the loophole and gobbling up farmland around you? 

How will this impact your farming operation?

If you want to share your thoughts, you can leave us a note here. You can also email me directly at: