By Craig Anderson
We all know economies of scale play a role in business consolidation, but is the increasing regulatory burden also causing small businesses to fuse together or, worse, close up shop altogether? Whether by design or not, rapid regulatory expansion has resulted in significant consolidation within agriculture.
Like countless other small businesses, family farms nationwide struggle to keep pace with increased paperwork, activity restrictions, employment requirements, land use and taxation complexity. A common result is consolidation and/or business termination.
Labor has always been a significant component of agricultural production—more significant in some sectors than others. The production of fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops are notoriously labor intensive. With increased consolidation, labor becomes an even greater challenge for much of agriculture and its supply and market structure.
The burden of regulation is felt in many other areas as well:
Most regulations are grounded in issues capable of generating some kind of negative outcome, but much of the current regulatory structure generates its own unwanted outcome: a massive increase in records generation.
Regulatory requirements must always be viewed through the prism of abundant, affordable food.
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Craig Anderson grew up on his family’s fruit and vegetable farm in Manistee County, and earned his horticulture degree from Michigan State University. At MFB he manages the Agricultural Labor and Safety Services program, providing subscription-based safety and training services to help ag-related businesses manage regulation. ALSS services relate to safety, food safety/security, environment, records maintenance, transportation, labor, immigration and employee management, safety and labor compliance and facility and management reviews.