With all the media hype concerning the poor health of Americans in general, I think it necessary to discuss the health of American agriculture.
The small, family-operated farm in the United States is on life support. Census statistics continue to point out that fewer and fewer Americans are involved directly in production agriculture activities. One cause is the increasing number of large corporate farms. These large farms are able to produce at a lower cost than the traditional family farm, leading to the exit of more and more small family-operated farms.
While control of American agriculture continues to become more focused in the hands of a few powerful corporations, the potential for abuse also increases. Factor in the availability of foreign-grown farm products and soon these large multi-national corporations may move most of their agricultural operations into emerging agricultural superpowers such as Brazil.
Currently, the majority of successful small farms are focusing more on local markets and exploiting profitable niches. Joel Salatin is a fantastic example of how a small operation can succeed while using agricultural processes that sustain and protect the environment. If you would like to see some other successful small farmers, visit a local farmers’ market. I doubt that you would need to go very far, and I further believe you would enjoy the superior products available at these local markets.
Many small farmers are also capitalizing on the increasing market for organic and naturally grown products, and I don’t mean just fruits and veggies. These growers also offer natural beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and more. Though growing at a rapid rate, I see this niche expanding in the next 5-10 years at an even faster rate given consumer attitudes regarding pesticides, herbicides, etc.
A question asked all too often, but often not out loud. The changing complexion of American agriculture will have a serious economic and physical effect on the health of this nation. How? That remains to be seen, but I look forward to your posts to see what you think.