Unit 5 WebQuest - Internet Project
|Will Family Farms Die Like
Mom, Pop Stores?
USA Today, November 1, 2000
Once upon a time, in little towns like this across the
USA, every business was family-owned.
Mom and Pop ran the grocery store. Also the butcher shop.
Drugstore. Movie house. Gas station. Most of their customers
were area farm families.
I grew up here. Worked at Rosser's Butcher Shop part
time while in high school. Got $1 a week and all the salami
and cheese I could eat.
Rosser's is gone now, as are virtually all of the other
mom-and-pop places. Not just here, but everywhere. Replaced
by the Wal-Marts of the world.
Family farms also are dwindling; many gobbled up by the
huge, national agribusiness corporations. The national picture:
1950: 5.6 million farms, averaging 213 acres each.
1998: 2.2 million farms, averagin g 432 acres.
The farm scene is a bit different here. South Dakota's
revised constitution prohibits agricultural operations by
outside corporations. They can manufacture farm products here,
but can't farm the land.
Result: There are fewer and bigger farms here, too. But
most of the big owners are natives, who bought out relatives
or friends who wanted to split for the coast.
Example: Stanley Kopfmann, fourth-generation local farmer.
Not only do he and his family now farm thousands of acres,
but he started Stan's Feed & Grain elevators here, which ship
out most of the area's soybeans, wheat and corn.
Kopfmann also lured to town a Wisconsin manufacturer
who produces Jack Link's Beef Jerky. Link's factory, just
a little more than a year old, already has 444 employees.
Many are area farm wives.
"Things are going OK around this little farm town," Kopfmann
said, grinning with pride. "We only have a population of 250
in town, but the one biggest business employs nearly twice
that many from all around here."
Many more old-fashioned family farms may go the way of
mom-and-pop stores. But tough and smart new-style farmers
such as Kopfmann will go and grow.
You are currently working for a state
agency that collects data on various businesses. There will
be a business fair at a major city in your state. Your assignment
for the fair is to prepare a brochure that shows data on farming
or ranching as a business. If you prefer, you can make a Web
page that will be displayed on a computer at the fair or that
can be viewed by people who cannot attend the fair. Your brochure
or Web page must include the following information:
- at least five graphs or tables that show statistics about
farming or ranching either over time or for a recent year.
The statistics you find should be about farming or ranching
in all fifty states;
- at least one scatter plot that shows some farming or ranching
statistic over time from which you can make a prediction
about farming in the future;
- a short description of what each graph or table shows;
- pictures or artwork that will make your brochure or Web
You will get some ideas about
how to complete your project from the Exercises in the textbook
in Lessons 12-4 and 13-5.
To successfully complete this project,
you will need to complete the following items.
- Find statistics about farming or
ranching. For help, try these Web sites.
and search for farming, ranching, or agriculture
- Find statistics about farming or
ranching in your own state. The Web site address for each
state is www.nass.usda.gov/
and then put the abbreviation for your state after the slash,
such as ca for California.
- Make five types of graphs for the
farming or ranching statistics. See the Exercise in Lesson
12-4 for an example. Try to use different types of graphs.
For ideas on types of graphs, try these Web sites.
How many people could stand side-by-side around the perimeter
of the structure?
- Make at least one scatter plot
showing one farming or ranching statistic over time. Make
a prediction for the future using your scatter plot. See
the Exercise in Lesson 13-5 for an example.
- Write a short description of what
each graph or table shows.
- Be creative. Add some additional
data, information, or even pictures to your brochure or
Here are some additional questions
and ideas you may want to consider for your project.
- What was the dust bowl of the 1930s?
Read this article at
- How does weather affect farming
- What are the expenses involved
in operating a farm or ranch?
- How is a computer helpful to a farming or ranching business?
- What training is needed to successfully operate a farm
Here are some ideas for concluding
- Present your project to your class
or at a family night.
- Present the information on a Web
page. Have other students critique your project and help
you to make improvements to your project.
- Write a one-page summary of your
project, including what you have learned from researching
- Interview a farmer or rancher.
Find out the advantages and disadvantages of operating a
farm or ranch.
For your brochure, you find these data about the number of
farms per state as of 1999. (The number of farms is given
- Choose a scale and an interval.
Then make a frequency table for the data.
- Make a histogram of the data.
- You want to use data about the
number of farms in your presentation about farming in America.
What other data would be useful in helping you to decide
whether farming is declining as a business in the U.S.?
- Describe another type of graph
you could make with these data.
You find these data about gross cash income for farms in the
U.S. from 1930 through 2000. Gross cash income is income before
- Graph the ordered pairs (years since 1930, gross cash
income). Is the scatter plot a function? Explain your reasoning.
- Is the scatter plot linear? If the plot is linear, write
an equation for the line. If it is not linear, draw a best-fit
line and then write an equation for the line.
- Use your scatter plot to predict the total gross income
for farms in the year 2020.
- You can see that the income from farms is increasing each
year. What other information would help you decide whether
farming is declining in the U.S.?