So, yes, even though most small farmers continue to struggle economically, evidence supports the claim that they've benefited from farm-to-table sourcing. But can this modest progress last?
Underscoring this question is the fact that small farms routinely pursue the production of animal-based goods. From grass-fed beef to pastured eggs to free-ranged chicken to "humane" pork, they have promoted the seductive notion that consumers can choose non-industrial meat as an act of defiance against industrial agriculture.
But this is the movement's fatal flaw.
Industrial meat production rules the roost. It exists and thrives due to a fierce combination of vertical integration, animal consolidation, market expansion and government subsidies.
Since the days of Earl Butz, corporations including Tyson Foods, Hormel, and Iowa Beef Processors have achieved de facto monopolies over the nation's supply of chicken, pork, and beef. And every ounce of that meat, due to the massive scale of these corporations, is unconscionably cheap.