Are Large Farms Family Owned and Operated?

  • Article
  • 1 min read September 22, 2015

When Texas dairy farmer Sieto Mellema looks out among his 3,000 cows and thousands of acres of crops, he doesn’t see a factory. Today Mellema discusses a question people may have about large farms: Are they family owned and operated?

Dairy farms, regardless of their size, may be perceived as faceless corporations. However, USDA research indicates otherwise. More than 97 percent of the nation’s 47,000 dairy farms are family owned and operated. Mellema’s farm – Full Circle Jerseys – is no exception. His three sons work on the farm and his wife, Misty, handles all accounting and bookkeeping duties.

“Most companies that run the dollars through each month that we do would have a fulltime office staff and a CFO, but this is still basically mom-and-pop operated,” he said.

Mellema’s hope is that the farm will one day continue under his sons’ guidance, although they’ll have to earn the opportunity.

“This generational farming thing has been going on for years in our family,” he said. “We’re giving them an opportunity but it’s up to them to take the opportunity and run with it and earn their keep within the farm. It’s extremely rewarding as a father to see this. The American dream is still alive.”

Have other questions about large farms? Mellema provides other answers here