Brown Stuff

Jim heartfield jim at
Thu Aug 12 04:20:11 PDT 1999

In message <37B23A0E.A0B159C4 at>, Michael Perelman <michael at> writes
>Small farms' inefficiency in the U.S. has a lot to do with their lack of market
>power. They pay more for inputs and get less for their products. In addition,
>university research systems for decades have catered to the needs of large

Or put another way small farms' lack of market power has a lot to do with their inefficiency. Economies of scale are amongst the singular most decisive in the socialisation of production. It hardly seems surprising that suppliers favour larger customers, and that research is oriented to the sector that is creating the lion's share of US foodstuffs.

You will say rightly that this is capitalist logic. But I suspect that any advanced social system would favour economies of scale, if it were not to put itself at a permanent disadvantage.

In the UK, like much of Europe, policy (governmental and EU) heavily subsidises all farmers, but especially smaller ones, shielding them from market pressures. Historically this is due to a couple of factors: historic anxiety over food security, and because rural populations were an important social base for Christian democracy, as a counterweight to the left-voting urban populations.

I know that the US also heavily supported farmers through PL480 grain purchases. Would you know how these were weighted between larger and smaller concerns? -- Jim heartfield

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