While many people think that large, expansive farming operations are the norm in California, the opposite is actually true. The federal Census of Agriculture found that one third of the 75,000-plus farms in the Golden State are less than 9 acres – and that two-thirds of the state’s farms are less than 50 acres.

And that’s why Farm Credit strongly supports the California Small Farm Conference, which this year will be held February 27-29 in Paso Robles. This year marks the 32nd conference, organized since 2018 by Community Alliance with Family Farmers, which works to promote sustainable and resilient family farms, communities and ecosystems.

Evan Wiig, the group’s director of membership and communications, said the event focuses primarily on farms that sell their products through farmers’ markets and directly to local grocery stores and restaurants.

“The conference is an opportunity for folks to come together and ask questions,” he said. “We are rooted in the real-world need of working farmers and provide practical resources that help farmers succeed as small businesses, local food providers and land stewards.

“Most of our attendees are in the 1- to 30-acre range, but we have some larger and some even smaller.”

About 300 attendees are expected, most from California.

Byron Enix, President and CEO of American AgCredit, said smaller family farms are important to the future of California agriculture.

“Farm Credit is proud to provide financial services to farmers and ranchers large and small, and we are equally proud to sponsor conferences like this one that provide important and up-to-date information to small farmers, who provide such important benefits to our communities and the environment,” Enix said.

Wiig said sponsorships such as Farm Credit’s are the only way events such as the California Small Farm Conference can be held.

“Our primary constituents don’t have a lot of extra spending power. We have to keep the event affordable, and we couldn’t do that on ticket sales alone,” he noted. “Farm Credit’s support has allowed us to grow and offer services to more people.”

The conference, which is held in different parts of the state each year, will be held this year at the Cuesta College North County Campus in Paso Robles. To learn more and to register, visit https://www.caff.org/ca-small-farm-conference/.