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Precision farmer Gary Wagner uses satellite imagery to map his fields. He knows more about the drainage in his fields from his maps than he would from walking through them. Click photo to enlarge

Photo: Stephanie Curtis
The Future of the Family Farm

More than steelworkers, miners, or high-tech innovators, family farmers represent America's ideals of Jeffersonian democracy, close-knit community and attachment to the land. It is little wonder, then, that the "save the family farm" movement has such an emotional appeal for Americans.

But the number of farms and farm jobs continues to decline—despite heavy government subsidies. In 1935, there were nearly 7 million farms in the U.S. Today there are only about 2 million. Congress is once again poised to hike its financial support of the battered farm economy. But with the war on terrorism straining the federal purse, now may be an opportune time to break the industry's cycle of dependancy.

1. Subsidy Failure Challenges Traditional Notions of Farming
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2. Cost Still a Barrier to Farming as Livelihood
3. Looking for a Solution
4. An Eye Toward Technology for Boosting Profits
5. Expanding Farms' Roles to Increase Profit
6. Rural Communities in an Era of Fewer Farms
7. Small Farmers Finding a Niche

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