Food activist, author and professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, Marion Nestle wonders in a recent post at The Atlantic whether small farms are really growing the way the media has said they are. She cites the recent USDA report, Small Farms in the United States: Persistence Under Pressure, which, she says, "offers a less optimistic picture" of the status of small farming in the US.
The biggest shocker from the report is that all the growth in small farms represents those farms that reported less than $1,000 in gross sales. So, really tiny farms - not making enough to pay any sort of living wage to the farmer, never mind employees! I wonder if these numbers represent hobby farms and backyard enterprises where folks are bringing overage to the farmers markets or selling eggs to their neighbors. Not that there is anything wrong with that - it's great! - but it isn't a major upswing in the number of small yet viable farms.
As Marion Nestle puts it, "Although most (91 percent) of U.S. farms are small, farms earning $250,000 and above account for 85 percent of the market value of agricultural production." We need to change that!