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Individual-owned corporate farming

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Sep 09, 2020
Corporate farming is agriculture on large-scale farms owned by large companies. This is a growing trend in several countries. The companies also indulge in selling agricultural products, providing agricultural education, carrying out related research, and influencing public policy. Corporate farming has several merits:
  1. Reduced food wastage at all stages from growing the crop (limiting wastage due to diseases) through wastage during harvesting to wastage during transportation to the consumer.
  2. Increased quality and quantity of the yield
  3. Implementation of improved technology: Reduced wastage and high yield facilitate finance for research and technology.
  4. Reduced selling price of the agricultural products due to large-scale production
  5. Increased contribution of agriculture (again due to increased revenue) to the Gross Domestic Product, again contributing to the economy.
The demerits of corporate farming include:
  1. Lower profits for the individual farmers due to growing competition from the corporate farmers.
  2. Risk of monopoly since only a few companies will control the production of food (the most important necessity) in a country.
  3. Unavailability of expert labor (farmers)
There are also some demerits to regular individual farming:
  1. Reduced farm size for future generations (if the number of progeny increases).
  2. Droughts and floods affect yield, and thereby, sustainability.
  3. Dependence on activities other than farming increases.
To avail the benefits of corporate farming and simultaneously eliminate the demerits of individual and corporate farming, I suggest individual-owned corporate farming -
  1. As the name suggests, companies (or preferably the government) will lease the farms from the farmers for a minimum period of 10 years.
  2. Adjoining farms will be merged and bigger farms will be created.
  3. Only the farmers that agree to lease out their farms will be employed by the corporate to work there. The corporate will only provide management. The farming and transport jobs will be divided amongst the farmers. These farmers will be paid appropriate monthly wages irrespective of the yield. If possible, the corporates can share some percentage of the profit with the farmers.
  4. Bigger corporates are capable of tackling droughts (for example, by digging canals from rivers) and floods (building and managing dams). Farmers from a certain region face the same problems more or less (drought, flood, or raiding by the animals). Instead of handling N different farms by providing assistance to the N different associated farmers, handling a single big farm is comparatively easier.
  5. In this case, the cost of buying the land for the corporates reduces to zero.
  6. Individual ownership by the farmers will also eliminate the negative vibe around "corporate farming".
Can you suggest any improvements? Is there any aspect here that can potentially backfire?

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General comments

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J
Jurana year ago
The idea is excellent! Farmers usually have a problem of inconstant income, highly dependent on the yield and thus, not being eligible for credits and mortgages. This would allow them to live more comfortably. But it could make big problems for a company to have stabile money income all-year-round. The key is to spread the business all over the region/country to minimize the effects of bad weather. Also, all varieties of crops should be seeded, to ensure the balanced yield throughout the year. But palms up for this idea that could transform agriculture, especially in smaller countries!
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia year ago
Thank you Juran! I like your suggestion of spreading the business and using a variety of crops. Makes total sense.
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Yahi Menezes
Yahi Menezesa year ago
I may have misunderstood some aspects of the proposal and I don't have practical experience in the field, but personally and ideally, I would go for a more "democratic" internal organisation system of the company, like a cooperative or some federative-like organisation, which I believe could potentially maintain most benefits of corporate farming while additionally ensuring: more equally distribution of decision power, ensuring that local farmers' needs are attended; more equal distribution of profits along people directly involved in the "production to selling process" (from farmworkers to managers); prevention of unprincipled corporate lobbying that may promote local environment and community degradation (like what happens nowadays in Brazil, for example), which may also be attained by preventing concentration of power of one associated farm (there could be an upper-limit in individual farm size, thereby maintaining internal compatibility). Some guiding principles of a cooperative: https://www.ica.coop/en/cooperatives/cooperative-identity
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia year ago
I agree a more democratic organisation will be favorable for the farmers. That is the reason I added "or preferably the government" in the first point under individual-owned corporate farming. However, if it starts to become less profitable (more like a non-profit organization or a welfare scheme for the farmers) for the investing parties, it will be less sustainable. Profit drives research, progress, and expansion (more companies might invest in farming).
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Darko Savic
Darko Savica year ago
Complement farming with electricity production. It's called Agrivoltaics. 1/3 of sunlight hits the panels while the rest goes to the crops. https://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/press-media/press-releases/2019/agrophotovoltaics-hight-harvesting-yield-in-hot-summer-of-2018.html