What’s the difference between a farm and a ranch (or a farmer and a rancher)?

Ranching and farming are two different, equally important systems that have similarities and differences in the way food is raised and produced.

Farmers primarily raise crops. However hog, dairy and poultry producers are also frequently called farmers. Famers are also soil and fertilizer experts, seed variety gurus, and plant growing professionals. They maximize their land potential through the crops they grow, and treat their soil as a key and cherished ingredient in producing food.

Ranchers, on the other hand, raise cattle or sheep. The “machinery” they typically use are horses and/or four-wheelers or pick-up trucks to help herd the cattle and/or sheep. Ranchers maximize their land’s potential by utilizing grass as one form of sustenance. Ranchers’ other duties include maintaining farm animal facilities , researching animal genetics and making related investments, ensuring animals are always provided ample water and feed, , and maintaining health and safety of their cattle and/or sheep.

Lastly, farms are generally smaller than ranches, but that doesn't mean their production is less or the workload is lighter. Farmers have to spend more time per acre on their land to plant, grow and harvest a crop. In comparison, ranchers spend their time gathering, moving and working their livestock and implementing fences and watering systems in a fashion that maintains or improves the native condition of their land. Farmers divide their operation up by fields or paddocks; ranchers by pastures.

USFRA Point of View

In order for agriculture to provide healthy choices for all Americans, as well as people around the world, we need all types of farms and ranches – big and small, organic and conventional, rural and urban. Only when farmers and ranchers collectively respond to the marketplace, sharing best... Read more