US agriculture and presidential debates

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

American ag is currently going through another era of below-cost-of-production commodity market prices, commodity overproduction, and oversized, price-depressing commodity inventories which among other things subsidize corporate confinement operations that drive livestock off diversified farms. These conditions will create another wave of family-scale farm closures, farm consolidation, absentee farmland ownership.  Rural communities and their main street economies will suffer another brunt, at a time when they and their institutions are already struggling to maintain vitality.

The current federal USDA crop insurance scheme (“farm program”), subsidizing mega-size farms, along with family-scale operations, fails to place an adequate floor under price trends, fails to stabilize farm income.  It grants added purchasing and borrowing leverage to large-scale operations to get even larger.  It lacks robust soil conservation and run-off water pollution remedials.

To aspiring political leadership:

What is your vision for rural America and its agricultural base?

Specifically, how will you formulate fundamentals of US/USDA agricultural stabilization and conservation policies to see this vision become reality?

We believe that to sustain mainstream, community-based Midwest agriculture it is necessary to resurrect the obvious New Deal logic of Iowa’s Henry A. Wallace:  Supply Management Parity Level Price Supports with Conservation Compliance, undergirded with fair trade pacts that incentivize world-wide national food sovereignty.  And a gutsy, modern-day Homestead Act to generate a new rank of young people on the land is required complementary policy.

JAY HOWEGreenfield, board member, Wallace Centers-Iowa

BARBARA KALBACH, rural Dexter farmer-RN, chair, IACCI Action

GEORGE NAYLORrural Churdan farmer, past president, National Family Farm Coalition

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