Groups Advocate More Support for Small Farms

Earlier this week the Fair Farms campaign kicked off a new movement designed to pressure federal legislators to do more to support small farms across the country. On the whole, farming and agriculture in the United States is a thriving business, one of the few bright spots in the U.S. economy. Despite this overall picture, many small farmers are struggling to stay afloat as the industry increasing concentrates more and more production in the hands of large-scale commercial farm organizations.

Michigan farmer Alex Bryan understands this difficulty first hand. In 1990 his family owned farm, which was started in 1900, went bankrupt, forcing Bryan to sell much of his family’s land. Access to funding is a major prohibition on small farmers, Bryan claimed. “To get funding to play in the game, to purchase equipment or to build infrastructure that follows guidelines that may be more appropriate for a large-scale producer, may be prohibitive to the small producer.”

Bryan, as well as other members of Fair Farms, is pushing for increased federal protection for small farms. In 2008, as part of the Farm Bill, the federal government made sweeping stockyard reforms aimed at helping local meatpackers compete with major meatpacking corporations.

Small farming advocates are pushing to extend this legislation to crop producers, hoping to end some of the red tape and regulations that make it difficult for local farmers to compete. This deregulation, combined with increased access to land and capital, will hopefully make it easier for small farmers to stay competitive.

The movement already has support from major politicians like Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, the chair of the Senate Agricultural Committee.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer