“Farm to Table” – Farmers Boys, Farmer Boys: How the World of Farm to Table Became a Billion Dollar Business
By Bobbi Stearns-Kramer, National Geographic WriterThe farm-to-table movement has a long and storied history.
But it has had an uneven path from the farm and chicken markets of the 1960s and 70s to the high-end, luxury market of luxury restaurants and the now-disappearing farm-centric cuisine of the past decade.
The story of how farm-troughs, which were initially focused on raising animals for food and raising cattle, have turned into a billion-dollar industry has a complicated history.
For starters, it is an entirely new breed of business that has had a long way to go to become mainstream.
In recent years, farmers have had to compete with large corporations that are increasingly using the farm-as-a-service (FaaS) model.
In turn, they have had an unprecedented level of pressure to make changes to their business model, even if it meant cutting costs.
And, more recently, the market for premium quality meat and poultry has exploded, as consumers demand a high-quality product at a price that rivals the price they pay for other kinds of food.
“It’s been a real struggle,” says John Burch, CEO of the National Association of Broiler Breeders (NABS), a trade association that represents the industry.
“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of change.
The business model has changed dramatically.”
In 2016, according to NABS, the number of U.S. farm-based businesses grew by 4 percent, from 2.3 million to 3.9 million.
And by 2021, the growth rate will be at least 5 percent, according a 2016 report from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).
The industry has also faced the threat of declining demand from other sectors, such as fast-food restaurants.
“Farm-to -table” has taken on a more sinister connotation, as farmers increasingly sell meat to consumers at a profit, rather than selling it to the people who produce the food, says Burch.
Farmers, who have often faced resistance to changing their business models in the past, are now under pressure to change their business as well.
“There’s a lot of fear out there,” he says.
“You can see it in the media.”
The farm-first movement, says John Gagnon, who runs the blog Beyond the Plate, was born in the 1970s, when the term “farm” was used as a pejorative for farmers, and it is still used to describe farming practices today.
The term “farms to table” first appeared in the late 1970s and was adopted by some activists to describe the practice of selling farm-raised products in grocery stores.
In that time, farmers started selling more food at lower prices.
It quickly became a trend among some in the industry, who felt that higher prices were an important part of the food movement.
“When you see people talking about it, it really speaks to people who are willing to put the effort into changing their lifestyle,” says Gagno.
But, according and to a 2014 report from Consumer Reports, the average price for a typical beef steak, lamb steak, or chicken breast was about $9.99 a pound in 2014.
“The price has dropped to where it’s not affordable for most people,” says Buss, noting that farmers can make more money by selling higher-quality meat at a lower price.
“They’ve been able to sell more and buy more.”
The movement to raise prices for farmers has not only increased demand for more meat and meat products, but it has also created a more complicated relationship between farmers and their customers.
“Many farmers see their food as a commodity,” says Stearnes-Kramers.
“Their food is being sold at a higher price than their competitors’ food.
They’re seeing that their product is being made to order and that their customers are paying a higher markup.
And so they want to make it as affordable as possible for their customers.”
The move to raise the price of their products has also caused some farmers to become more aggressive with raising their prices.
“I’ve been told by some people that if I raised my prices too much I would lose customers,” says Mark Gagnan, who is the founder and CEO of Strictly Organic Farm, which sells organic farm-produced meat at his farm in North Carolina.
“But it’s the same mentality.
If you’re not going to charge a higher markup than your competition, why are you raising the price?
Why are you putting in your customers’ money?
We’re raising our prices to make sure that the customer can afford it.”
Farmers say that the rise in demand for premium products is also hurting the industry by driving up costs for some consumers, especially small farmers.
“People are being pushed into the market