[Disclosure: I don't think that Rebecca Thistlewaite over at honestmeat.com likes me one little bit. In fact, I'm pretty sure she hates me. But I sure do love her. ]
I read Rebeccas blog from time to time because she talks about stuff that I'm interested in. She has a completely different point of view from mine on many subjects.
So I'm reading her most recent entry, about a new farm operation that is starting in northern California, by the name of belcampo meats.
So the basic facts about Belcampo:
They're claiming to have purchased 10,000 acres of farmland
They're showing up in farmers markets and gatherings
They claim to be building their own processing plant (which they also say will be available to other farmers to process their product)
And they plan on doing a variety of products, beef, pork, chicken, lamb.
Rebbecca goes on a rant about the evils of rich people, and how the sky will fall if... well, go read it for yourself. But here's my take:
One of the biggest barriers to entry for a farmer is finding the land to farm on. you've got to have land to farm, and there's no way around that. And land, particularly land near population centers, is going to cost a lot.
So this company purchased 10,000 acres, and looks to be getting into business producing food. Someone sold them those acres, presumably at market prices. That's a nice exit strategy for folks who own land - I'm sure they were happy to sell.
But the point is that belcampo now has to come up with a business model and plan to make money after paying retail prices for land, and here's how that helps small farmers:
If they can make a profit after paying retail for the land, so can any other entity -- corporation, family or individual. If they can do that using good practices, even better.
I think that the "multigenerational farms" that rebecca quoted are one of the things that make farming particularly hard to enter. If they're using land that they own outright it's a HUGE competitive advantage over someone who has a mortgage. And often that translates into production that is actually below the true cost. And those lower prices in turn mean that folks with mortgages have an even harder time.
Rebeccas own experience on leased land shows that land ownership is one of the key elements that makes a farm stable. Don't know why she's pitching a fit about someone who's going the other way -- buying the land first.
UPDATE: Rebecca is claiming that farmers are losing "thousands of dollars of sales" to belcampo -- but they're apparently not. See the comments in this thread.
3 days ago