Land and food: Who controls production and marketing?
This chapter examines both production and marketing. It addresses credit, tax and commodity price-support programs – all of which have promoted concentration because they remove a considerable amount of risk from farming. The adoption of mechanical and, later, chemical technologies meant that a single farmer could cultivate much larger areas of land. Like other businesses in the American economy, agriculture needs financing. In fact, agriculture has become capital-intensive and is becoming more so each year. But most farmers are overcapitalized, deeply in debt and out on a financial limb. Changes in marketing technology and methods of procurement have mostly moved toward larger producers selling to larger food-processing buyers. The Federal Trade Commission has backed away from close scrutiny of the food industry. The farmer gets a better price by selling directly to consumers; the consumer may get a better price and certainly gets fresher, higher quality food; and both sides benefit from face-to-face contact.