17 March, 2014
From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.
Family farming has been called the main form of agriculture around the world. The United Nations has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says, the year-long campaign is designed to increase public understanding of farms owned and operated by families.
It says farm families are important producers of food for growing populations, but many family farms do not provide the same work benefits as large company farms. Many family farms can not provide retirement plans, health care or child care.
So the FAO wants to get family farming included in national policies that support agriculture. The goal is to create a balanced and equal environment so family farmers can succeed.
FAO officials say they will try to learn more about the difficulties family farmers face and ways to support them. Weather problems, price drops and weak world economies can hurt family farmers. For many, a single crop can mean failure or survival.
Family farms operate in different ways around the world. Men run the majority of them. Generally Men own or pay to use the land, decide which crops to grow and supervise the sales. Women are more often the planters and harvesters of the crops. Very long work days are usual on family farms. It is difficult for many family farmers around the world to gain the land, water and other resources needed to farm.
The U.N. has helped establish more than fifty national committees to deal with these issues. The committees are made up of representatives of family farm communities. Together they decided on 5 goals to reach by 2014.
One is to establish policies to make equal the rights of men and women farmers. They also want to guarantee that nations have the right to develop their own food production. The committees hope to require governments to accept and follow certain environmental guidelines. And they want governments of mainly agricultural populations to provide financial support to farmers. Finally, the committees agreed to work to support young people in agriculture.
Family farms have been around for hundreds of years. They could continue to exist for hundreds more. But experts say family farms will need support to compete in the face of technological improvements and increasing international trade.
And that's the VOA Learning English Agriculture Report, written by Kim Varzi. For more stories about agriculture, go to our website 51voa.com. I'm Milagros Ardin.