According to the results of the most recent Census of Agriculture, we may be witnessing the return to small, diversified, family farms. This article in US News and World Report indicates that new farming techniques make small farms more viable and demand for fresh organic food is increasing. With the current economic environment, it should come as no surprise that small farms are on the rise. People are looking for ways to supplement income, get out of the rat race, become better stewards of the land (and their food), or all of the above.
This article from Clark County, Washington indicates that many of these farms are started by people who are looking for extra income and these farms are on the rise, even as large scale, industrialized agriculture is dying.
Unsung, unorganized and unsupported by most federal subsidies, backyard fruit, vegetable and meat growers have been popping up in the county almost as fast as the biggest farms have been dying, new federal statistics show.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, between 2002 and 2007 Minnesota gained 2,200 farms 180 acres or smaller, but only 100 farms of 2,000 acres or more.
Minnesota’s growth in small farms is largely concentrated in the Twin Cities area and is beholden to the state’s strong organic product movement and its large immigrant populations in quest of ethnic meats and vegetables. For example, inventories of goats have quadrupled in the state during the past decade.
And small farm operations can best serve those niche markets.
This is good news. The demise of the family farm in the latter half of the twentieth century was a detriment to our society and culture. We have reached a point where industrial agriculture controls a significant portion of our food supply and there has been a quiet revolution to that system. That quiet revolution has been growing and will eventually reach a shout. I am looking forward to that day.
U.S. farming is growing in numbers but shrinking in size of farms