America has fewer and larger farms. Here’s why that matters

Grist

Welcome to our series on the changing face of agriculture: Farm Size Matters! Over the next month, we hope to give you a comprehensive picture of the state of American farms today: all of the fun (what it’s like to date in farm country), failure (how, despite all efforts, a farmer can lose his farm), fame (an interview with Willie Nelson), and facts (a fascinating ag subsidies explainer).

Lundberg Family FarmsSo, why does farm size matter? As the total number of farms goes down, the number of big* farms is going up — and this shift hurts rural America. According to an analysis by Food and Water Watch: “Communities with more medium- and smaller-sized farms have more shared prosperity, including higher incomes, lower unemployment and lower income inequality, than communities with larger farms tied to often-distant agribusinesses.”

In strictly economic terms, U.S. agriculture has followed a pretty unsurprising path. Better technology leads to greater crop yields…

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