Agriculture is increasingly becoming dominated by big players. According to USA Today, the amount of 2000+ acre farms have doubled since 2007, displaying starkly what small to medium size farms are up against in the current agricultural business climate. Family farms are being pushed to put their lot in with national-level producers, or fail.
For many family farms, this isn’t a viable route. Many farms are small organic-led businesses catering to a niche, and standards can be impaired or altered by big business coming to town. For a small business looking to stay profitable and grow organically, there is a solution: diversification.
Tourism through camping
Camping remains one of America’s favorite vacations. According to Statista, over 45 million Americans camped throughout 2017, showing the popularity and size of the market. This is one way that farms can bring in extra cash. Whether offering land simply to pitch up, or putting in the facilities for glamping like in Georgia, as reported by WABE, there is money to be made - as well as reputational gains. Be wary of insurance and protection. It’s crucial to ensure that the fields in which you’re offering camping will not be impeded by animals or agricultural products like pesticides. Furthermore, help your campers to understand the local climate averages so that when camping they are prepared for temperature change, as this will help to boost your traveler ratings and foster a responsible business environment.
Creating artisan products
Dairy farms have often produced artisan cheese and cream products in addition to their main stock. The same goes for fisheries and smoked fish; and so on. There is no reason a farm that doesn’t create these products as a primary source cannot do this. There are over 40,000 USDA certified organic farms and these can be easily found in your local area. Using the area of your farm, and the heavy equipment and facilities often associated with it, you can easily formulate your own products. That could be cheese, or beer, or even grain for bread making.
Opening up your home
If you have a sizeable farmhouse with spare rooms, it’s worth considering whether you could run a bed and breakfast. Even without a farmhouse, suitable outbuildings and grounds - or even a campsite service under a gazebo - can be a great place to host food. B&Bs are in rural and urban areas now, and farm-based ones can take advantage of food grown on-site to provide that extra cutting edge and impetus for travelers to experience a farm-based stay.
Farms are being squeezed by big business. However, there is still plenty of opportunities for farms to stay relevant, through approaching the tourism and artisanal foods industry. Assess your farms potential, research your options, and watch your business grow.