2/28/2005

Reinventing the Family Farm

The American family farm is an art and science that is slowly dieing. Farmers have faced bleak farm prices since the 1950s. That’s the case with production focused farms growing such commodities like wheat, corn, soybeans, and pretty much most types of vegetable crops. Today’s production farms that grow these types of crops are large corporate run agribusinesses, and have the means to compete in a very difficult market. The focus for the smaller family farmer seems to be one of finding a niche market and then focusing on becoming the very best in that niche. The story relates a young financial planner and his story of buying an old vineyard in Temecula California. This family not only grows the grapes on their farm, but they harvest, produce, package, and sell the wine that comes from their grapes. This seems to be a way the farmers are finding a competitive edge in the difficult world of farming. By selling packaged goods instead of large bulk commodities, the man in this story has reinvented the family farm.

4 comments:

Marie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marie said...

Marie said...
This really is a good topic. I think about the times when I was growing up and you could buy fresh fruit and vegetables from the famers market down town. Their produce was some of the best that I have ever had. With mass produced food consumers may be saving on price but lose the taste fruit and vegetabls should have. Fruits and vegetable also lose nutriants when mass produced. I think that there is more being lost than gained.

Keston said...

I love it that small farmers are finding ways to make money. I come from a small town and even have a small farm. It's hard for small operations to make it with all of the large corporate companies that have taken over agriculture. I believe that in order for small family farms to stay in business they are going to have to find a niche that they can serve and reap the profits from there.

Dr. Tufte said...

-2 on Drake's post for spelling errors and no link.

What is really going on here is that the farmers in question are switching from producing an undifferentiated product in perfect competition (where zero profits is reach quickly) to a differentiated product in monopolist competition (where there is some hope of perpetuating postive profits for a while).

As to large agribusiness farms, that is dicated by the realities of production and economies of scale. You can't fight that: it isn't right or wrong, it just is.

BTW: farmers have been worried about declining commodity prices for a lot longer than 50 years. It goes back even further, but every one of you learned in American history once-upon-a-time about the progressive movement in the 1890s and how it was tied to declining farm prices.