Social And Economic Issues Around Small Farms

1590 WordsMay 8, 20177 Pages
Since the founding of America, the small family farm has been a pillar of United States culture and economics. These small generational farms were known for molding very capable, independent families that were known for their morality, strong character, and high work-ethic. Urbanization, industrialization, the growth of U.S. agribusiness, and other economic factors have slowly chipped away at the presence of the U.S. small family farm. Technology and mechanization developed by colleges, agribusinesses, and other government sponsored research programs have caused farm supply to increase exponentially while farm demand grows at roughly the rate of population growth. Most modern small farms are too commodity focused to compete in niche…show more content…
Many of these younger workers often see farming as an antiquated profession and relatively unprofitable. The draw of higher education and the bright lights of city life are constant distractions pulling them away from the less “exciting” rural life of farming. Without a generation of farmer to replace the last many small farms are sold and developed commercially or absorbed by larger commodity driven farms that surround them. Technological advancements have been a strong driver of change in agriculture over the last 100 years. “Technology is, in fact, the key force driving the shift of farm activities off farms” (Smith, 1992, p. 8). After the World Wars, mechanical advancements were made at a rapid pace. “Advances in mechanization and increasing availability of chemical inputs led to ever-increasing economies of scale that spurred rapid growth in average farm size, accompanied by an equally rapid decline in the number of farms and in the farm and rural populations” (Dimitri, Effland, & Conklin, 2005, p. 6). Essentially, the use of mechanization has dramatically increased the supply of agricultural products while also drastically reducing the size of the necessary workforce. “The amount of capital used per farmworker increased 15 times between 1930 and 1980, permitting a fivefold increase in the amount of land cultivated per farmer” (McConnell,
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