Events such as the covid19 pandemic are one of a kind and that means it will keep shaping the world long after the pandemic itself is over. It’s an opportunity to think about the way we do business and the way we live our daily lives, and possibly to improve upon it.
This is true for agriculture as much as it is for any other portion of the economy. It seems that the key to dealing with the food systems will be in the local and small farms.
Small farms are local and a part of the community in which they are based. That’s an important feature for food systems and it’s especially noticeable now when there are breakdowns in that system. Events happening across the world can disrupt the food system as it is and that’s something we should learn to avoid in the future.
On the other hand, small farms sell directly to the consumer or to the local businesses making them more reliable and potential problems with the delivery easier to predict and fix.
The reduced activity in all areas has shown us just how impactful we are in terms of the environmental damage we make. This is a chance to focus on the practices that are eco-friendlier and to put the emphasis on the sustainability in agriculture. Sustainable farms have been around for decades but they have never managed to become mainstream or to compete with the big farming business.
Now, when there’s a pressure to come to terms with the negative effects of the big farming and when its others downsides are exposed, it may be time to turn to small sustainable farms for real.
Small farms are mostly based in the community they are located. This is the case when it comes to the type of produce they make, and where the employees come from as well as who the customers are. Small farms are therefore a product of their environment as much as they can be.
We have seen how the community can be affected by an issue with one of its pillars such as a large business or by a blanket government measure that’s made for the country as a whole, but doesn’t take localism into account. This is where local farms can help since they are rooted in the community.
Big businesses need to focus on profit at all times. This means that they usually work with a rather thin profit margin and put a lot of their profit towards reinvesting and expanding the business. This is needed in order to remain competitive, but it doesn’t allow for having time or resources to pause or save.
Disruptions such as this one has showed as that it’s imperative for a business to be able to pause and to have some of its goods in stock in order to prepare for that pause. This is much easier for a smaller farm.
At this point we know that the health risks of the pandemic come from contacts between individuals that aren’t aware of being carriers of the virus. There are a lot of people involved in the large scale agricultural production since all the work done in the process is highly specialized.
There’s less labor involved in small farming and the work is contained in terms of its scope and location and that means that there’s less risk for those involved and for the customers.
In the end, we have also seen businesses going under and how difficult it is to establish new one quickly (it’s now expected that the economic crisis caused by the pandemic may last for years). Small farms are also a solution to this since, they are rather easy to establish in comparison to large companies.
It still takes a lot of work and investing and it many small farms fail just like any other small business. The markets and the banks should be more aware of this potential and try to help more.
Small farms may play a big role in dealing with covid19 and its consecutions. The virus has caused a problem with a food delivery system and shown all the problem that have been troubling the industry for years if not decades. The solution however is an old one as well.
That’s because the small farms are uniquely suited to be able to meet the needs of the consumer and in a way that won’t be hurtful to the environment, the economy and for the health of the general public. It will take a bit of time until they take this place.