In the United States, agricultural production has been shifting to larger farms for many years. The demand for cheaper food and lower production costs has turned fertile fields and small operations into industrial plots and factory farms.
Today, these large-scale operations account for most of U.S. food production. However, due to high soil erosion rates and a loss of biodiversity, industrialised farming doesn’t offer a long-term solution to the world’s food crisis. If anything, it reduces food security and dooms future generations to barren, un-farmable land.
It seems the U.S. has much to learn from countries like China and Africa, where small-scale farmers produce a vast majority of food. Here, family-run operations and rural farms thrive, and sustainable solutions are readily adopted, many of which would greatly benefit the Americas.
The most obvious alternative to industrial farming is organic farming. Organic farms tend to take up less land and produce almost the same amount of food as conventional small-scale farms. Certified organic cropland has increased nearly every year since 2002, and organic sales in every food category have also multiplied in recent years. In 2016, fruits, vegetables and milk accounted for 55% of total growth, despite many of them costing two to three times more than conventional products.
As more small-scale organic farms appear, the price of their livestock and agricultural products will likely decrease. Meanwhile, consumers will continue to become more aware of how their food choices impact the environment. When considering the negative impacts of industrial farming, they’ll come to discover that organic agriculture is cheaper for society and healthier for the planet. Their support will likely hasten the widespread adoption of this more sustainable farming method.
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