American agriculture has been consolidating for decades. Farms have dwindled in number as they have grown in scale, and the same is true of businesses that process and distribute food. Forces driving this shift include technological advances that improve efficiencies and reduce costs, but those mainly benefit larger operations that can afford to adopt them.
Countering this broad trend, recent agricultural research suggests that emerging precision technologies offer hope for smaller operations. Novel systems that collect, analyze and apply detailed information to better connect farm production and markets for fresh produce could yield crucial benefits for small growers.