Food and the Mid-Level Farm: Renewing an Agriculture of the Middle

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Overview

Agriculture in the United States today increasingly operates in two separate spheres:
large, corporate-connected commodity production and distribution systems and small-scale farms that market directly to consumers. As a result, midsize family-operated farms find it increasingly difficult to find and reach markets for their products. They are too big to use the direct marketing techniques of small farms but too small to take advantage of corporate marketing and distribution systems. This crisis of the midsize farm results in a rural America with weakened municipal tax bases, job loss, and population flight. Food and the Mid-Level Farm discusses strategies for reviving an "agriculture of the middle" and creating a food system that works for midsize farms and ranches. Activists, practitioners, and scholars from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, political science, and economics, consider ways midsize farms can regain vitality by scaling up aspects of small farms' operations to connect with consumers, organizing together to develop markets for their products, developing food supply chains that preserve farmer identity and are based on fair business agreements, and promoting public policies (at international, federal,
state, and community levels) that address agriculture-of-the-middle issues. Food and the Mid-Level
Farm makes it clear that the demise of midsize farms and ranches is not a foregone conclusion and that the renewal of an agriculture of the middle will benefit all participants in the food system--from growers to consumers. Thomas A. Lyson was Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Development
Sociology at Cornell University until his death in 2006. He was the author of Civic Agriculture:
Reconnecting Farm, Food, and Community. G. W. Stevenson is Senior Scientist with the Center for
Integrated Agricultural Systems at the University of Wisconsin-- Madison. Rick Welsh is Associate
Professor of Sociology at Clarkson University.

The MIT Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

" [A] valuable addition to the agrifood literature and to alternativeagrifood social movement practices." -- Douglas H. Constance, Agriculture and Human
Values

The MIT Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262122993
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 6/30/2008
  • Series: Food, Health, and the Environment
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas A. Lyson was Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Development Sociology at Cornell
University until his death in 2006. He was the author of Civic Agriculture: Reconnecting
Farm, Food, and Community.

G. W. Stevenson is Senior Scientist with the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at the
University of Wisconsin-- Madison.

Rick Welsh is Associate Professor of Sociology at Clarkson University.

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Table of Contents

I Agriculture of the Middle: Why Farm Structure Matters

1 Why Worry about the Agriculture of the Middle? Fred Kirschenmann Kirschenmann, Fred G. W. Stevenson Stevenson, G. W. Frederick Buttel Buttel, Frederick Thomas A. Lyson Lyson, Thomas A. Mike Duffy Duffy, Mike 3

2 Pursuing Long-Term Food and Agricultural Security in the United States: Decentralization, Diversification, and Reduction of Resource Intensity Kenneth A. Dalhberg Dalhberg, Kenneth A. 23

II Organizational Structures That Could Support an Agriculture of the Middle

3 Cooperative Structure for the Middle: Mobilizing for Power and Identity Thomas W. Gray Gray, Thomas W. G. W. Stevenson Stevenson, G. W. 37

4 Is Relationship Marketing an Alternative to the Corporatization of Organics? A Case Study of OFARM Amy Guptill Guptill, Amy Rick Welsh Welsh, Rick 55

5 Contractual Integration in Agriculture: Is There a Bright Side for Agriculture of the Middle? Mary Hendrickson Hendrickson, Mary William Heffernan Heffernan, William David Lind Lind, David Elizabeth Barham Barham, Elizabeth 79

III Bringing Mid-Level Supply Chains and Consumers Together

6 Consumer Considerations and the Agriculture of the Middle Eileen Brady Brady, Eileen Caitlin O'Brady O'Brady, Caitlin 103

7 Values-Based Supply Chains: Strategies for Agrifood Enterprises of the Middle G. W. Stevenson Stevenson, G. W. Rich Pirog Pirog, Rich 119

IV Policies That Could Support the Agriculture of the Middle

8 Toward a Pro-Middle Farm Policy: What Will It Take to Ensure a Promising Future for Family Farming? Daryll E. Ray Ray, Daryll E. Harwood D. Schaffer Schaffer, Harwood D. 147

9 Agriculture of the Middle: Lessons Learnedfrom Civic Agriculture Thomas A. Lyson Lyson, Thomas A. 165

10 The Effect of Laws That Foster Agricultural Bargaining: Apple Growers in Michigan and New York State Shelly Grow Grow, Shelly Amy Guptill Guptill, Amy Elizabeth Higgins Higgins, Elizabeth Thomas A. Lyson Lyson, Thomas A. Rick Welsh Welsh, Rick 179

11 Sustaining the Middle: The Roles of Sustainable Agriculture and Agri-Environmental Payments Sandra S. Batie Batie, Sandra S. 203

12 The Prospects and Limits of Antitrust and Competitive-Market Strategies Peter Carstensen Carstensen, Peter 227

Epilogue: Strategies for Strengthening the Agriculture of the Middle G. W. Stevenson Stevenson, G. W. Rick Welsh Welsh, Rick Thomas A. Lyson Lyson, Thomas A. 253

Appendix: The Changing Status of Farms and Ranches of the Middle Mike Duffy Duffy, Mike 257

List of Contributors 285

Index 287

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