Small-scale agriculture

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Small-scale agriculture has been practiced ever since the Neolithic Revolution. More recently it is an alternative to factory farming or more broadly, intensive agriculture or unsustainable farming methods that are prevalent in primarily first world countries. Environmental Health Perspectives has noted that "Sustainable agriculture is not merely a package of prescribed methods. More important, it is a change in mind set whereby agriculture acknowledges its dependence on a finite natural resource base--including the finite quality of fossil fuel energy that is now a critical component of conventional farming systems." [1]

Small-scale agriculture includes a number of sustainable agriculture practices such as:

The methods of food sustainability and economics are hotly debated. This is a question between agricultural economics and the draining of the largely unaccounted natural capital.

Dietary methods[edit]

Some dietary methods may contribute to sustainability such as macrobiotic, vegan, vegetarianism or restricting animal products to those produced using the above methods.

Economic efficiency[edit]

There are many economic advantages in farming on a small-scale land. Local farmers generate a local economy in their rural communities. An American study showed that small farms with incomes of $100,000 or less spend almost 95 percent of their farm-related expenses within their local communities. The same study took in comparison the fact that farms with incomes greater than $900,000 spend less than 20 percent of their farm-related expenses in the local economy.[2] Thus, small-scale agriculture supports local economy.

Despite the claims of industrial farmer lobbies, large-scale farming is often less efficient than small sustainable farms. In fact, industrial single crop culture aims for a high output per worker. On the other side, small-scale farmers produce more food per acre of land.[3]

The small-scale agriculture business model is generally oriented to sell products directly to the consumers. Disintermediation gives the farmer the profit that would otherwise go to the wholesaler, the distributor and the supermarket. About two thirds of the selling price would actually be lost for product marketing. Meanwhile, if farmers sell their products directly to consumers, they recover the totality of their product value.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Horrigan, Leo (2002). "How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture". Environmental Health Perspectives. 110 (5): 454. doi:10.1289/ehp.02110445. PMC 1240832. PMID 12003747.
  2. ^ Chism, J.W.; Levins, R.A. (1994). "Farm". Minnesota Agricultural Economist. Spring 1994 (676).
  3. ^ Gorelick, Steven; Norberg-Hodge, Helen (2002). Bringing the Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness. Kumarian Press (US). Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  4. ^ Fortier, Jean-Martin (2012). Le jardinier maraîcher. Canada: Écosociété. ISBN 978-2-89719-003-3.