You will hear much about the importance of small businesses this summer. Candidates running for public office will talk about the role of small businesses in creating jobs, increasing production and contributing to the economy.

When they hear the phrase “small business,” most people think of manufacturing, service or retail shops. But, the face of small business often wears a seed corn cap. Farming is a $15 billion business in the state, and most Minnesota farms fit well within the accepted definition of a small business.

Farming in Minnesota is a family-driven business. USDA statistics indicate that 87 percent of the state’s farms are owned by an individual or a family. Another 10 percent are owned by family corporations or partnerships, most likely for tax or estate planning reasons.

Family ownership is the most common, unifying trait of Minnesota farms. Their skills and interests vary as much as the landscape. As small business owners, Minnesota farmers design an enterprise that takes advantage of their land, potential markets and the skills and work-ethic of their family members.

The University of Minnesota began its Farm Family of the Year recognition program in 1980. This year’s honorees will be recognized for their contributions to agriculture, our economy and rural communities at an Aug. 5 ceremony at Farmfest, the state’s largest farm gathering.

This innovative group of small businesses does not always get the recognition it deserves. The University of Minnesota is proud to lead this effort to recognize the contributions of farm families.

Read more about the 2010 University of Minnesota Farm Families of the Year, including profiles and information on the recognition event, visit

Source: University of Minnesota, Hutchinson Leader