I've often times been accused of being anti-modern agriculture, which I don't believe is the case. I believe we need more farmers and farmers deserve to be compensated better. Therefore, I believe supporters of modern agriculture are actually anti-farmer.
I believe that by any socioeconomic indicator you choose, the consolidation of agriculture and farms has not been good for rural America. I've been accused of "not looking at the facts." I have a degree in Economics from Purdue University and there is nothing I love more than to look at facts and figures. I believe the article I have listed at the bottom of this page lays out the true facts on what consolidation of rural America has done to our rural communities. We must demand that food, fiber, and fuel policy takes into account the fact that loss of family farms is negative to rural development. Not understanding this concept is the same as re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
The world is in a surplus commodity situation. We’ve always been over-producing calories. The whole world does not need to eat (or even have the possibility of having available) 200 pounds of red meat and poultry per person per year. We say we need to increase production in order to "feed the world" but is that really the case? Agriculture used to feed people. Then it fed animals. Now it feeds cars. If we flipped the food pyramid upside down, we’d have the food subsidy pyramid. We’ve got exactly what our policy predicted: a surplus of corn and soybeans and not enough items to create a healthy diet for the globe long-term.
We have a chance next year with the Farm Bill to go in a different direction. A direction that no longer perpetuates the rural degradation and decimation with the long standing policy of agriculture consolidation. Let's address market access at all sectors: contract, commodity, processing, and retail. We have a monopolistic- and/or oligopolistic-controlled industry. Food is not a product that can or should be in the hands of just a few large players. Our forefathers understood that. Let's enforce the regulations that are on the books. USDA and other enforcement agencies have no problem enforcing regulations that make it harder for the small players in the industry. Let's address the regulatory challenges that cripple the smallest players in agriculture. Let's address the health consequences associated with a subsidized food supply based on cans and bags of refined carbohydrates and hydrogenated oils. Let's address the inequity in most subsidies going to the richest and wealthiest. Let's turn the tide of preferential treatment on food labeling from the multinationals to the smallest players. Let's turn the tide of preferential treatment that favors multinationals and foreigners and give that preferential treatment to the American producers. The American consumers and taxpayers are ready for change in Rural America. We all eat. We all have a stake in a sane and reasonable food supply that brings about vibrant rural communities.
Farmer, Owner, Advocacy Worker
"A Wall Street Journal analysis shows that since the 1990s, sparsely populated counties have replaced large cities as America’s most troubled areas by key measures of socioeconomic well-being—a decline that’s accelerating." Opening paragraph of Rural America is the New 'Inner City'.
"The future we have been sold doesn’t work. Applying the principles of the factory floor to the natural world just doesn’t work. Farming is more than a business. Food is more than a commodity. Land is more than a mineral resource. Despite the growing scale of the problem, no major mainstream politician has taken farming or food seriously for decades. With the presidential campaign over and a president in the White House whom rural Kentuckians helped elect, the new political establishment might want to think about this carefully. Suddenly, rural America matters. It matters for the whole world." Excerpt from An English Sheep Farmer's View of Rural America.
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