My ideal vision for the future of farming includes vibrant farms at all scales, in urban and rural areas. But the census data has shown over time that large farms (over $1M in sales) and very small farms (less than $10K in sales) are the only two segments of the farm demographic that are growing. Those “farms in the middle”—viable but small family farms–are disappearing. There are so many contributing factors that I can’t go into them all here, but I will describe to you my personal experience with one of them: “one size fits all” regulations that challenge innovation in farm businesses. Across all types of farming, from meat to produce to dairy, adding value to farm products is an important way for a farmer to make more money. But when regulations are developed for industrial-scale food processors, with no exemptions for smaller producers, the results favor massive businesses with deep pockets.
Photo courtesy of Shelterbelt Farm.