There is an article in the August edition of Progressive Farmer (a big-ag publication) that begins: “A revolution is sweeping across U.S. agriculture–the growth in the size of farms and ranches.”
According to the USDA there were 2.2 million farmers in the U.S. in 2007. Just 50,000 of them produced 59% of the total U.S. farm output.
In other words, 2.3% of American farms produced 59% of the agricultural output.
It is projected that by 2017 over half of the agricultural production in the country will come from a mere 20,000 farms.
The decline in the farm population and the increase in large scale industrial farms has been going on since the end of World War II, seemingly accelerating each year.
It should be obvious that it is unwise to increasingly put our food production into fewer and fewer, larger and larger, hands. And of course bigger farms doesn’t mean better food. Most of the time it means worse food.
I would argue that alongside this big-ag “revolution” of growth, consolidation and industrialization, another more promising revolution is occurring. Even as fewer and fewer large corporations and mega-farms tighten their grip on industrial food production in this country, thousands of small sustainable farms are popping up, producing food naturally and giving their communities an alternative to the industrial product.
It seems that the distinction between the two types of farms is becoming more pronounced every year.
Revolutions often produce counter-revolutions. In this case industrial ag’s “revolution” of growth and consolidation is being met by a counter-revolutionary return to small diversified natural family farming.
Vive la revolution! (Ours, that is).