A large part of the problem for small farms, according to this executive summary:
Mid-sized farms and ranches are disappearing
because, individually, they are often too small to
compete successfully in international agricultural
commodity markets, yet they are not positioned
to bypass these markets and directly market food
to local consumers.
The summary goes on to discuss cooperative direct marketing, producers working together to create a larger market and thus accessing the benefits of scale. These cooperatives offer a premium, or "value added" product to consumers, and appeal to a shared set of values between producer and consumer. This value added, values-based formula can allow producers to offer a superior product to interested consumers at a scale unavailable to very small producers and in a manner that larger operations are unable, by the nature of industrial agriculture, to meet.