What are the largest American farms, and how do they represent themselves visually?
October 7, 2009 7:06 PM   Subscribe

What are some of the largest farms in America, and how do they represent themselves visually?

Hi all, I am thinking about how big farms in the US represent themselves visually today, and I am hoping that you can point me to some examples. I am especially interested in grain farms (wheat and corn), but any type of farm would be interesting to ponder. What are the names of huge farms that I could google? I am hoping to identify truly giant farms. Do these companies have public websites? Basically I am curious to see if these farms are using images that evoke the "small family farm" to market themselves, thus being deceptive. Or alternately, are they using a different visual vocabulary and set of aesthetic values? If their values are different, then what are they? Expansive fields? Gangs of machinery? Numerous hired laborers in the fields toiling? Abstract logos or realistic representational imagery? Any insights that you have would be most appreciated.
posted by tnygard to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Miller & Lux Ranch planted 50,000 acres of wheat at one point, (in different fields)

Clovis Cole planted 25,000 continuous acres of wheat, near Clovis Ca.

There is a lot of farming that is contract farming, essentially farmers are subcontractors, so finding really huge fields may be difficult.
posted by edgeways at 7:52 PM on October 7, 2009

The King Ranch in south Texas is supposed to be the largest in the US and one of the largest in the world. From their website they do not appear to hide the fact that they are so big. They even have a partnership with Ford to produse the leatherwork for their elite truck series, the "King Ranch" Edition which features their symbol almost as prominently as the Ford logo.
posted by Yorrick at 8:21 PM on October 7, 2009

Not exactly what you're asking, but super-├╝ber-conglomerate ADM knows how to work the "family farmer" rhetoric and imagery.
posted by aquafortis at 8:34 PM on October 7, 2009

As I understand it, really large farms are likely to be contracting for large agribusinesses, thus absolving them of any need to publicly represent themselves.
posted by parudox at 9:01 PM on October 7, 2009

The Tyson Chicken farm was listed in Arkansas as the largest US firm because the Tyson family still controlled a majority of the stock.

The Gezira Scheme in Sudan might be the largest farm in the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gezira_Scheme
posted by mattbucher at 9:27 PM on October 7, 2009

The King Ranch in south Texas is supposed to be the largest in the US

It isn't. The ZX Ranch in southern Oregon, formerly owned by the late Idaho potato billionaire J.R. Simplot, is measured in the millions of acres.
posted by dersins at 9:52 PM on October 7, 2009

Cascadian Farms is a division of General Mills which sells organic food. While a real Cascadian Farm actually exists, the brand sources its products from "hundreds of organic growers around the nation and the world" (including China). I'd say this qualifies as 'evok(ing) the "small family farm" to market themselves, thus being deceptive.'
posted by torquemaniac at 9:54 PM on October 7, 2009

Oh, and this is how they represent themselves.
posted by dersins at 9:57 PM on October 7, 2009

Del Monte has miles and miles of crops in California. I believe you see them coming into California on Interstate 10 -- both sides of the highway, for as far as you can see in either direction. Like, "Next 5 miles: Cabbage" and looking on both sides of the interstate for as far as you can see is cabbage; then 5 miles down the interstate, "Next 5 miles: Sunflowers". I might have the wrong interstate, though; someone more familiar can probably tell you immediately, because it is very striking.

Gallo (vineyards) is like this as well, although I can't remember exactly where their vineyards are. Miles of grapes, though.

Monsanto is very big, so I would assume that any of their individual farms would be among the largest.

These three are so huge, they really can't pretend they are small farms. Del Monte and Gallo still try to portray themselves as pretty much "farm" and "vinyard". But Monsanto portrays itself as more "science" and "technology," which makes sense when you think about it.
posted by Houstonian at 10:30 PM on October 7, 2009

This is going to vary extremely widely by geography and product/crop. For example, here in Iowa (and most of the upper midwest), there are no large corporate "farms" in the sense the OP describes. Several states have passed legislation prohibiting corporate ownership of farmland. So, while Iowa produces more hogs and pork than any other U.S. state, you'll not see IBP, Cargill/Excel, or Tyson corporate signage proudly displayed around here. It's all contracted work under the guise of individual farms. What's directly controlled is not the necessaries of production (land and labor), but the inputs and the various segments of production (particularly when it comes to pork and poultry). This enables the corporate producers (i.e., the name on the label of the final edible product you buy at the supermarket) to remain largely invisible until a consumer-ready product has passed through the last stage of processing.

Now, fruit/vegetable farming in other areas of country may be different, so I can't speak to those; but here in the mono-crop midwest, you will have to look very hard to find a corporate presence portrayed visibly.
posted by webhund at 10:14 AM on October 8, 2009

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