We compared USDA data for the average "large" US farm - definied as a farm with over $250,000 of income. The USDA says there are 151,000 large farms in the US - this makes up 7% of all the farms, but 59% of all farm production. That means a small number of big farms are growing most of our food.
Then, we called up a small organic family farm to see how they measured up. Small farms (income is less than $250,000) make up 90% of all US farms. But organic farms are less than 1% of all farms - there are only 8,000 certified organic farms in the US.
So, we compared the annual financial statement for a large farm and a small, organic farm. Here is what we found.
|Large Farm||Small Organic Farm|
|Total Income||$1.4 million||$76,800|
|Amount of Government direct payment||$95,000||$5,000|
|% of Costs spent on Fertility||7% (fertilizers and pesticides)||3% (compost)|
|% of Costs spent on Labor||8%||26%|
Where would you rather raise a family? The small, organic farm is eating all its own food, and trading for other foods the family doesn't grow. The large farm eats less than 1% of its own food - most of what it produces is only good for animals to eat or to be processed.
Pictures of another small farm by Farmgirl of the wonderful Farmgirl Fare.
P.S. Read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma to learn more about industrial farm production and small-scale farming.