Outbreak! small farms popping up left and right

February 6, 2009 at 4:57 pm Leave a comment

According to a USDA farm census taken every five years, the number of US farms grew significatly between 2002 and 2007, and most of that growth was due to the rampant outbreak of small farms. That’s right, our agriculture system has begun to revert to the old-style small farm system, with lots of smaller-size farms growing a variety of different foods and selling them to local eaters.

Compared to the big farm model that has dominated the US food system for the past fifty years or so, the small farm model is a really good thing. Big farms tend to grow one crop, like corn, soy, beef, chicken, etc, whereas small farms grow a little bit of each. This is better for the soil, which means small farms don’t require as much fertilizer, and it’s better for the eater, because it means we can access unique foods grown nearby in an environmentally-friendly manner.

And importantly, small farms are good for farmers. Big farms don’t really have “farmers” – they have managers and they have workers – and the farms are owned by big companies that don’t take very good care of the people who work for them. Small farms tend to be family operations where farmers have a stake and a say in their farm, their land, and the products that they sell.

So, yay! The growth of small farms in the US is a really good thing. We should celebrate. And if one of these new little farms has sprung up near you, go ahead and buy food from it – it’s a win-win situation.

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Entry filed under: food. Tags: , , , , , , .

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