What farmers do
The word farmer usually refers to a person who has a field, orchard, vineyard, or garden where food is grown. This food is eaten or sold after it is harvested. Farmers may also grow raw materials for industrial purposes. Some examples of raw materials that are used in this way are:
- cereals for alcoholic beverages
- hides (animal skin) for leather
- maize/corn for plastics or fuel
- wool or cotton for yarns and making cloth
Farming has been dated back as far as the Neolithic era. By the Bronze Age, the Sumerians had an agriculture specialized labor force by 5000–4000 BCE, and heavily depended on irrigation to grow crops. They relied on three-person teams when harvesting in the spring. The Ancient Egypt farmers farmed and relied and irrigated their water from the Nile.
Animal husbandry, the practice of rearing animals specifically for farming purposes, has existed for thousands of years. Dogs were domesticated in East Asia about 15,000 years ago. Goats and sheep were domesticated around 8000 BCE in Asia. Swine or pigs were domesticated by 7000 BCE in the Middle East and China. The earliest evidence of horse domestication dates to around 4000 BCE.
Advancements in technology
In the U.S. of the 1930s, one farmer fed only himself and three other consumers. The same farmer now feeds well over a hundred people. However, some authors consider this estimate to be flawed, as it does not take into account that farming requires energy and many other resources which have to be provided by additional workers, so that the ratio of people fed to farmers is actually smaller than 100 to 1.
More distinct terms are commonly used to denote farmers who raise specific domesticated animals. For example, those who raise grazing livestock, such as cattle, sheep, goats, and horses, are known as ranchers (U.S.), graziers (Australia & U.K.), or simply stockmen. Sheep, goat, and cattle farmers might also be referred to respectively as shepherds, goatherds, and cowherds. The term dairy farmer is applied to those engaged primarily in milk production, whether from cattle, goats, sheep, or other milk producing animals. A poultry farmer is one who concentrates on raising chickens, turkeys, ducks, or geese, for either meat, egg, or feather production, or commonly, all three. A person who raises a variety of vegetables for market may be called a truck farmer or market gardener. Dirt farmer is an American colloquial term for a practical farmer, or one who farms his own land.
In developed nations, a farmer (as a profession) is usually defined as someone with an ownership interest in crops or livestock, and who provides land or management in their production. Those who provide only labor are most often called farmhands. Alternatively, growers who manage farmland for an absentee landowner, sharing the harvest (or its profits) are known as sharecroppers or sharefarmers.
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A Nepali farmer
Farmer Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.