Aug. 31, 2004 – In the wake of fierce domestic competition from US agribusiness firms, small farms around the country are turning to community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs to raise money to maintain their crops.
Unable to secure bank loans, farmers at over 1,000 small farms are selling shares of their yields up front to local families and businesses to get the cash infusion they need to keep their farms running. In exchange for the shares, which are sold prior to the beginning of each growing season, farmers deliver fresh produce to shareholders during the harvest season.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the number of farms in the US has plunged from a peak of nearly seven million in 1935 to 2.1 million in 2002. Small farmers have found it increasingly difficult to compete against large agribusiness firms such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, which receive the lionâ€™s share of farm subsidies from the federal government because of acreage and productivity guidelines implemented by the 2002 Farm Bill.