UCS: Independent Science, Practical Solutions | Union of Concerned Scientists


My own research on this topic was catalyzed by the early work of the USDA research group that became known as the “Agriculture of the Middle” team, as they drew much needed attention to the financial viability of mid-scale farms and ranches. Akin to the concerns many current politicians place on the dwindling middle class, this team of researchers focused on “the ‘middle’ food markets, between direct and commodity marketing options.” Their intention is to explore how “farmers and ranchers are working together to distinguish their products in the marketplace based on values such as environmental stewardship, food quality, and fair trade.” Case studies highlighted in past work includedShepherd’s Grain in the Northwest andLa Montanita in the Southwest, both offering better terms of trade with their supplying producers.  There has also been additional attention to farms owned by beginning farmers, veterans, and socially disadvantaged groups (minorities and women), which have a significant overlap with small and mid-sized farms in terms of market barriers and financial challenges.

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