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Agribusiness is a term that describes the corporate method of farming. The term includes not only the farm itself but also the entire chain of agriculture-related business including seed supply, food processing, machinery, etc. Agribusiness marks the rise of modern techno-farming. Farms are expensive to operate; costs include machinery, fertilizers, pesticides, fuel, and seeds. Some people question whether small family farms are economically sustainable in the United States. One major difference between independent farming and corporate farming is that a corporate farmer is usually a contracted employee, rather than the "boss" of the farm.

The goal of agribusiness is to vertically integrate all food production. Corporations want to manage every step of this production, from DNA to consumption. One of the biggest agribusinesses is Archer Daniels Midland.

Table of contents
1 History of Agribusiness
2 Criticism of Agribusiness
3 See also
4 External Links

History of Agribusiness

The corporate farming movement began in the chicken and vegetable industries and has since expanded to hog and grain production. In 1997, some 60% of hogs sold within the US were sold under some form of contract, whereas in 1980 only 5% of hogs were sold in this manner.

Criticism of Agribusiness

Agribusiness has received criticism because of its tendency to remove farmers from independent production decisions and forcing them to sign production contracts with corporations.

Agribusiness is also criticized for its tendency to concentrate production, while expanding, and thus steadily decrease both the number of farms and the percentage of independent farmers. This is essentially an anti-monopolist criticism.

As production continues to concentrate and is coupled with increasing reliance on technology, farmers complain about their increasing remoteness from centers of population or production. Fox example, farm machinery repair services, which were once as close as 2 miles away, are increasingly as far as 40 miles away.

Robert A. Rohwer asks, "Are we starting a new serfdom with CEOs as the lords? Are we creating a vise whose jaws are corporate control? Corporations will soon collect all the windfalls of agriculture and corporate decisions will dominate all aspects of the field. My son and daughter are mere employees, tied to the land, swamped in debt, and diminished in their entrepreneurship. We are moving towards industrialized agriculture."

It is important to consider whether the food that reaches the consumer is as good as it would be under alternative structures of the food industry. Very large organisations may be motivated primarily to maximise yield and profit rather than breadth of choice (to the consumer) and flavour; they may feel more inclined to use genetically modified crops, hormones, preservatives, color additives and insectides to maximise yield and profit. In the United Kingdom there has been a growing reaction against factory farmed produce in recent years, with consumers feeling that they can obtain higher quality products (admittedly at a higher price) if they know the provenance (the local and often small scale source) of the food they buy. There is little or no comparative information about flavours compared internationally and over time (i.e today compared with the past) but there is anecdotal evidence that US factory farming may have resulted in a deterioration (and not simply a change) of food flavours.

See also

External Links