Monday, November 5, 2007

Small farms & Farm Bill

I got this article forwarded to me this morning. New York Times - Farm Bill. It made me start thinking about farms and small farms and the future.

My husband’s family are dairy farmers in Pennsylvania. When we first started farming his uncle asked us why would we farm? “I get paid $2.00 an acre NOT to grow green peppers!” Well, at the time, we had a total of 5 acres, so a big $10 a year was not going to do it. But, if I could sell a real person a pepper and get the full market value of $2 or 3 a pound, it does not take many plants to exceed those subsidies.

The same uncle once told us that if was paid $1.00 a gallon for milk he would work one more year and then retire! While regulation, location, and vision prevents our uncle from seeing those level of returns, we are able to do much better doing the type of farming we want to. Not that we'll make enough to retire soon, but we really feel it can support our family.

But our type of farming is not even on the radar screen of legislators writing documents like the farm bill. Yet the type of farming we are doing: providing products directly to customers instead of providing commodities to multi-nationals is the ONLY way (I think) for small farms to succeed.

Thankfully, there are consumers (like you) who are willing to go a little out of their way to support farms like ours and who understand that what we do is not the same as factory farming, and that sometimes crops fail, or yields are small but are willing to take a little risk to enjoy the bounty of fresh local food, grown by people you know and trust, using methods you understand, and creating healthy foods. Healthy for the consumer, the watershed, the farmer, the soil, the environment, and the local economy.

Little steps, every year, and maybe in the next couple decades we will see legislation which is more rounded and not controlled by the interests of one group, but by the needs and priorities of the nation.

(Sorry for a long boring post with no pictures!)

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