Beyond meeting certain aesthetic desires, however, the case for local and organic agriculture breaks down. In a recent New York Times op-ed, chef and small-farm advocate Dan Barber noted that a four-acre farm in the United States nets, on average, $1,400 per acre, while a 1,364-acre farm nets $39 an acre. This is supposed to demonstrate that small farms are significantly more productive than large farms; in fact, it does nothing of the sort. What Barber’s statistic shows is that the crops being grown on very small farms are different from the crops being grown on large farms, and that the sorts of crops that make financial sense to grow on small, labor-intensive plots are expensive to cultivate and therefore expensive to buy. No matter what breed of corn you cultivate, there is no meaningful market demographic that will allow you to net $1,400 an acre for it.
Maximum input for minimal income.