There are as many types of farmers in the world as there are farm products demanded by consumers. Farmers raise animals for meat, eggs, milk, wool and feathers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Internationally, farmers bring to the table every kind of fruit, vegetable and grain crop, as well as specialty products such as silk worms, cultured pearls, rubber, coffee, ferns and countless other plants, animals or by-product of those plants and animals.
Market trends sometimes determine what farmers produce. Bison farms became popular in the United States when the meat was sold as a novelty. Ostrich farms were very popular in South Africa in the Victorian age due to the desirability of ostrich feathers in fashion. There are always farmers who will risk farming a new or novel farm product. Some such farmers are alpaca farmers in the United States and farmers of tilapia on Nile River practicing rain forest aquaculture in Costa Rica
Size and Markets
Where farm products are to be marketed can define the type of farmer involved. Market farmers run farms that cater to local consumption such as shoppers at farmer's markets. Agribusiness farms sell in large quantity to industry and family farms may produce only what the family needs or sell limited qualities to processors. The Encyclopedia Britannica notes that “‘industrial farms are of growing significance in world agriculture.“
Methods and Practices
The methods and practices a farmer uses determines what type of farmer he is. Organic farmers use practices that disturb nature as little as possible and are interdependent with and have a low impact upon the environment. Other farmers strive to increase yields by using the latest scientific knowledge, chemical and botanical research, and technology. Permaculturists practice a kind of farming that refrains from cultivation as much as possible and finds ways of producing food symbiotically with the ecosystem.
Changes in the ways societies think can cause people to begin farming a product that has new or re-envisioned uses. Bamboo and jute farming became popular early in this century as consumers sought sustainable building products for home use. It is debated whether or not wind farms are true farms, but the need for sustainable energy has caused some farmers to begin production of electricity on their farms. As pharmaceutical research finds new ways to use old botanicals, farmers respond by growing such products as ginseng, garlic or castor beans.
Cultural factors can sometimes determine the types of farmers in a community. Some farmers in rural China come from generations of tea farmers and hold knowledge of ancient practices in cultivation and drying of tea. Amish family farmers around the world, for religious reasons, practice low technology farming. Many urban dwellers seek a rural experience and become hobby or retirement farmers, learning farming for the first time.