Small Farms Make a Comeback

After many years of declines, the number of small farms in the U.S. showed a small increase in the mid-1980s.

| January/February 1983

small farms - knitted barn and farm animals

There may be hope for the future of small farms after all.

Photo by amebar/Fotolia

The Census Bureau has noted a nationwide increase in the number of small farms over a four-year period, and believes this to be an indication that the historic "exodus to the cities" is reversing. According to the bureau's associate director, the number of small farms across the country (the term "small" is applied to spreads of less than 50 acres) has grown by 3%. While that may not sound like a significant gain, the total number of small farms had been decreasing for so long that any upward trend is worthy of note. (It's also interesting that 90% of all U.S. farm operations are owned by families or an individual, and that 48,000 of 50,000 corporations that own farms are themselves family-owned.)

Farm Briefs

Researchers in Idaho are testing trout manure as an organic fertilizer that — along with supplying nitrogen to the fields — will keep the waste water from fish hatcheries out of nearby streams .... If a new Environmental Protection Agency proposal is adopted, companies will no longer need to prove that their pesticides work against specific bugs before marketing them .... The University of California at Santa Cruz has started a program in “Agroecology” — agriculture based on traditional ways of growing food, "combined with new knowledge of how and why those ways work" .... Scientists are suggesting that a carbonated drink such as Perrier water can help chickens lay stronger eggs. It seems that the carbon dioxide in the bubbly helps to prevent the chickens from excreting necessary calcium compounds and at the same time provides carbonate, which is also important to shellmaking …. According to a Gallup poll, more than half of all U.S. households raised some or all of the vegetables in 1982.

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