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The Importance of Family Farms

A glimpse into corporate versus family farming

As a 4th generation family farm, there is nothing more important to us than passing our way of life along to the generations that will come after us. We are proud of the long-standing traditions that accompany the lifestyle laid out by our ancestors. What was once a noble career is too often ostracized by politicians and activists.  Farming and ranching have become so politicized that farmers and ranchers bear the brunt of the abuse and feel underappreciated.  

Agriculture has become so hard that producers are leaving, forced or not, in droves.  According to the American Farm Bureau, only 2 percent of American families are farmers and ranchers.  Each year that number decreases.  With that decrease in agricultural production, part of our food system dies and is rarely able to be obtained again.  You see when a producer is forced to either sell out or quit, typically large corporations are there, ready and willing, to purchase American farmland at prices unobtainable for the average family.  

These corporations are ready to subsidize food supply, and our government has paved the way to do so.  When I say corporate farming, I mean uninterested, un-American corporations, not co-ops controlling what is sold in the grocery store.  Simply put monopolistic control of our food system is killing the American farm.  There are no checks and balances at this level, the government and big business control and foreign investments control the food placed out into the American food supply.  

What exactly is corporate farming? 

Corporate farming, also known as industrial agriculture or agribusiness, refers to the practice of large corporations being involved in various aspects of agricultural production, processing, and distribution. In corporate farming, agricultural operations are typically characterized by large-scale, mechanized, and technologically advanced methods.  These operations can be both domestic and foreign investments. Due to their large and unchecked size and resources, corporate farms often have better access to markets, distribution networks, and global trade opportunities.

Corporate farms are often criticized for potential environmental negative impacts, negative impacts on small farmers, and concentration of power in the hands of a few large corporations.  Rural communities face challenges competing with large corporations, leading to changes in rural demographics and local economies.  Jobs leave and when jobs leave, people leave, forcing more and more local businesses and family farms to seek jobs and homes elsewhere.  Rural America is slowly dying, with little to no hope in sight.  

Cattle ranchers, crop farmers, poultry producers, dairy farmers, greenhouse growers, and all family farmers involved in the agricultural system are growing more and more concerned about the economic viability of family farms.  Ownership of land, public policy, rising input costs, commodity prices, and technological advancements are the greatest challenges small farms, small towns, and small family farms face today.  The cost of land alone has skyrocketed, making ownership next to impossible.  Record high input costs due to public policy thwarting efforts of expansion for family farmers.  Partnered with monopolistic commodity prices and costly technology, large companies are slated for industry control.

How do we change?

The family farm corporation is an essential component of the U.S. agriculture system.  It is up to us, family farmers, rural community members, consumers, and all individuals concerned about food security to fight.  We must call upon our politicians to enforce and create better foreign ownership laws.  We must speak out against large farm monopolies.  Four companies control over 85% market share for the beef cattle industry alone, some domestic, some of foreign interest.  Better enforcement and expansion of Country of Origin labels allow consumers the option to purchase American beef. 

The best way to support your family farmers and local communities?  Purchase your beef, pork, chicken, vegetables, and other available goods directly from your local producers.  They are in your community and would love the opportunity to serve you!  You don’t have to be a farmer to support a family farm.  Local farmers and ranchers are oftentimes just as competitive as grocery market pricing and can provide you with fresh, local food.  You can skip multiple steps throughout the supply chain management ladder and the family farm receives the maximum payment for their product, a true win-win. 

Advocating for family farms is a cost-free way to support your local farmers and ranchers. Share their posts when you see them on social media.  Like, comment, share,  read their information, and ask questions about where your food comes from.  The local food movement is catching fire and it takes all of us to spread the flame.  Tell your friends and family when you purchased a good product, steer as many people as you can back to local farmers and ranchers.  If you have the space and availability, grow a garden, get a few chickens, and any steps towards self-sustainability help fuel the local food movement.  

Now is the time for us to band together and reject the current agenda to fully subsidize our food sources.  We as consumers have the ultimate say and control of our food system.  I’ll leave you with this excerpt to consider when purchasing meat, cheeses, dairy, produce, and other food items…“Who controls the food supply, controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world”  -Henry Kissinger, 1974 

Won’t you join me in the fight to save family farms?

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