The biggest point about small scale farming is it's close to home, so the food stays in the community. And the flip side of that is, it takes a lot of small scale farms to feed a community, so there's room for anyone who wants to do it to have a market.
In most cases of small scale farming, you can actually go and SEE how the food (be it animal or vegetable, etc) is grown. No worries about foreign countries poisoning the product they ship out. Get to know your small scale farmers, they, once again, may be the future of agriculture.
Examples: 1. We bought feeder pigs, the farmer talked with us at length and showed us his operation and shared his insight. 2. We bought goats, those folks showed us their place, shared how they do things, disbudded our first babies for us, and have become good friends. 3. We bought hay from a local farmer, we talk about hay, farms, critters, business, we will buy more from him.
Farmers with small scale operations are a great wealth of more than just food and feeds, they are a wealth of information as well. They can tell you from personal experience what will work and what won't if you are considering such a venture.
Bill, good info on those sites. But it's not the same as talking to the PEOPLE who do it.
moore_farm, good luck with your speech.
Another thing, small farms can offer products you can't find anywhere else. There is a woman who sells at our local farmers market the most wonderful, tender crusted pies you could ever wish for. They are even better than Grandma's! Sorry, Grandma but they really are. Made with berries from her berry patches. You just can't buy stuff like that unless you go to the small time farmer. And don't get me started about the bison that came direct from the producer! I had NO idea meat could be so tender and tasty! Even Grandpa's Angus didn't taste that good! And the cattle ate mostly grass!
True small scale farming for a living or playing at farming as a hobby and some income and food?
How about giving the down side as well.
Such as when cattle need to be hauled it is hard to justify the cost of a trailer and a larger towing rig when you only have four head instead of 50 or 100.
How do you justify the cost of a calf cradle, head gates, squeeze chutes, proper working corral, etc. for a couple of calves per year versus 50 to 100. Sure you can do without but it is harder on the animal and much harder on the workers with more danger to them.
It is hard to justify the cost of a dump truck that will only be used for dirt and gravel and the like instead of a full time larger acreage farmer that also uses a newer more dependable truck to also haul grain and livestock. The insurance and licensing costs are still there no matter how much the truck is used.
What happens when you need seed for a crop and all it comes in are bags that are 10 times larger than what you need? Milo--50# bags is an example. Many seeds can be carried over but not all should be.
How about the ownership of a combine for 5-10 acres? Sure you can get an old one that will do the job just fine, but will it be dependable and can you still get all of the parts you need? Combines need set each year to the conditions of the crop at harvest time. Sometimes during the setting process you will cut a half acre or more. How many acres are you harvesting if a small scale farmer, maybe 5 acres of milo, 5 of corn, 5 of sorghum feed, 5 of small cereal grains, etc.? You might wind up done before you even get your combine set to optimimum settings. Yes I know first hand that you can start with the same setting used as last year, but that is just a starting point.
What about haying? How do you justify the cost of equipment for a few acres instead of being able to spread the cost over much more land?
I'm sure you can understand what I am saying about spreading the cost over a few acres or animals or whatever rather than over hundreds.
Many small scale farmers must take off farm jobs in order to provide health care insurance, a retirement package, etc. whereas a large scale farmer can earn enough to pay for them himself or herself.
Small scale farming is inefficient in many respects. As an example let us say that a field is 300 feet wide. The small farmer uses an implement that is 6 feet wide meaning he must make 50 passes across the field to work it right? Nope, because each previous pass must be overlapped by say 6 inches. Losing 6 inches on each of 50 passes means he must work an additional 3 passes for a total of 53. Anyone care to calculate the soil compaction from tractor tires?
A large scale farmer might use a 30 foot implement meaning only 10 passes across the field. Yup, he can be in eating supper while the small scale guy is still plugging along, assuming that they are both working the same size of acreage.
However I hasten to point out that the smaller implement will fit further into corners meaning that the large farmer will waste some land that the small farmer will have production on. I think the Chinese could live off of the land America wastes by this process. Row crop farming doesn't waste as much as typical cereal grain farming by the way.
What the difference boils down to is basically the same as the demise of horse use on farms---manpower.
You might also want to briefly touch on why we are seeing the demise of the family farm. Folks no longer know where their food comes from and they dont want too know either. Look at folks who wont eat eggs fresh from a chicken? But they will buy those same eggs in a store when they are several months old? sis
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