The small family farm has all but disappeared from our agricultural landscape. In roughly 60 years, this foundational cultural and economic institution became wholly insignificant to the total production of food in our country. In its stead rose corporate and large-scale agriculture which brings with it debt-driven paradigms and centralized production.
Corporatized agriculture places the production of our food in the hands of very few and those few protect their power at the expense of freedom in the market. Scale is a problem here, not because it inherently produces bad food (though bad food is often the result), but because it produces bad policy – such as the Food Safety Modernization Act and the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance – which actually serves to suppress small-scale, free-market solutions to our agriculture needs.
Despite the daunting regulatory environment, there appears to be a resurgence of interest in the small family farm. Resurging interest in locally produced food and organic agriculture are creating a market that gives small family farms a competitive edge. Families are leaving behind industrial careers to take up farming. Existing farms are finding new growth in organic produce and grains. There is hope for real reformation.