The Business of Farming

The Business of Farming

All of the challenges explained in Monopolies and Antitrust (link) also apply to the business of farming. The industry of agribusiness also has unique challenges. This has a substantial impact in states with many farms like California.

Notably, the ownership of farms has changed dramatically over the last century. Family farms were sold to larger companies and more and more consolidation happened to produce very large farming companies. While this might have produced some initial benefits, it had lots of negative  consequences, including:

  • In an effort to maximize output while minimizing labor (a modern formula for making a profit), we have moved to large-scale monoculture farming so that harvesting could be done with machines rather than people. 
  • The lack of natural biodiversity in the monoculture approach has resulted in depleted topsoil and crops more vulnerable to disease. 
  • The solution for this was to use harsh chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which has been detrimental to the local ecosystem.
  • To ensure that crops could withstand use of these chemicals, food was genetically modified (i.e. GMOs) to be more resilient. 
  • Large scale farms are adept at finding government subsidies which makes it harder for smaller farms to survive.
  • Farmworkers continue to be paid very little and have poor working conditions.
  • The communities surrounding farms have had much of the income sucked out of their respective community (Extractive economy – link to what?) which translates into less money to maintain social spaces, water rights issues and air pollution (Regenerative Farming link).

Movements underway need your support

The overall drive of a Wellbeing Economy is to make food more local, have a more beneficial impact on nature, and to produce greater fairness in pay and work conditions. There are many movements you can become involved with and here are a few highlights.

  • Small-scale farms produce more food per acre than large-scale monocultures. They also produce beneficial effects on water use, pollution and carbon reduction.
  • Creating more worker owned farms or coops. This keeps money from getting extracted to a distant corporate headquarters and can prevent extreme pay gaps between owners and employees.
  • Groups dedicated to farmworker’s rights. 
  • Honoring the wisdom of Black and Indigenous Farmers who have been working with the land and understand the healthier practices that were cast aside by the large corporate farms.

Resources

  • Imagining a Regenerative Economy in the Central Valley – Essay by Carrie Norton
  • 5 Podcasts about Regenerative Farming article 
  • Leah Penniman video interview on Bioneers video 
  • Bioneers webinar – Black and Indigenous Farming Leaders Share Their Strategies
  • LA Times article on subsidies for Big Ag
  • Otto Scharmer essay on Climate Action – The Power of Soil
  • Kiss The Ground Movie Trailer
  • California Healthy Soils Act – Healthy Soils Act

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