An event such as the COVID pandemic is rare, and its effects will be felt worldwide for some time to come. The challenges it brings provides new opportunities to consider the ways we do business, and how we can improve our daily lives. This is true for the agricultural industry as well. It seems that one key element to our economic recovery may lie in the food production of small and local farms.
Small farms are often centralized around their local communities. Localism is a vital feature for our food systems, particularly in today’s economy, when disruptions in the system can result in wide-scale consequences. Events across the world can easily disrupt our food systems here at home: something we must strive to avoid in the future. Small farms sell directly to their consumers and local businesses, making for a more reliable source of food free of potential problems with delivery and supply chain.
Reduced activity in all regions has revealed how susceptible we are in terms of the environmental damage we cause. We have a chance to focus on eco-friendly practices that emphasize sustainability in agriculture. Sustainable farms have been around for decades, but have never managed to become mainstream competitors of big farming cooperations. As pressure mounts to come to terms with the negative aspects of big farming, it may be the perfect time to turn to small sustainable farms for the long-haul.
For big business, profit is forever a key focus of day-to-day operations. This means they will usually work with a thin profit margin, putting the brunt of their profit towards reinvesting and expanding. This is necessary to remain competitive but rarely allows for the time and resources to allot for unexpected challenges. The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have shown the importance of a company’s ability to pause and have stock in reserve. This is much more easily done on a smaller farm.
At this point, we’re all too familiar with the health risks posed by in-person contact. Far fewer workers are involved with smaller-scale operations than on larger farms, lessening the risk for pathogens to be transmitted among staff.
Ultimately, many businesses go under due to the challenges in starting up a new venture. Small farms are one solution, as they are easier to maintain in comparison to larger companies. It still takes a lot of work and investment, but there are bound to be fewer obstacles for a small-scale operation.
Small farms could very well be the future of our post-pandemic recovery. They are uniquely suited to meet the needs of the consumer, in sustainable ways that provide reliability and functionality to the communities they serve.