Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reached back to the Carter era in calling for a transformational 2023 farm bill that helps small and medium-size farmers earn more from the land rather than move to town. Secretary Bob Bergland "issued a warning to all of us about" the problem of too much consolidation in agriculture, said Vilsack.
Without exception, Senate and House Republicans voted last summer against the climate, health and tax bill that earmarked $20 billion for USDA’s voluntary land stewardship programs, with a priority on practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resiliency. Now, they are …
For all their differences, the United States and the European Union share a common experience — the abrupt decline in farm numbers, said the agriculture ministers of the agricultural powerhouses. The transformation of the agriculture sector, more recent in Europe than in the United States, resulted in a relatively small number of large farms that produce the majority of the food and many small farms with little revenue from crops and livestock.
The pandemic has given the idea of agricultural collectives a boost—in some instances, a gigantic boost. In 2020, when the coronavirus disrupted industrial food systems, causing widespread backlogs and shortages, local co-ops, farm collectives, food hubs, and other distribution projects found fresh relevance. Some food hubs reported revenue increases as high as 500 percent, according to a May 2021 report from the Wallace Center, a nonprofit that supports community food and farming solutions.(No paywall)
America may still be a land of family farms — 96 percent of the 2 million farms in the country are owned by families, according to a new USDA report on farm types. Yet there are more and more non-family farms, and they account for a growing share of agricultural production.
When the Trump administration poured billions of dollars into rural America to mitigate the impact of trade war, "most of it bypassed the country's traditional small and medium-sized farms that were battered by the loss of their export market," said the CBS News program 60 Minutes on Sunday. It's just as likely big farmers will benefit in a big way when the USDA disburses $16 billion in coronavirus-relief cash to farmers and ranchers, said the program.
This week, the public interest law firm Public Justice announced the rollout of a national food project that will unite attorneys and communities across the country to work on cases that involve agribusiness. The announcement comes as concerns about the power of corporate agriculture are growing, from the heartland to Capitol Hill.
After a week in which Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who's running for president, was in the spotlight for her call to check the power of big agribusiness and "level the playing field for America's family farmers," Big Ag began to hit back, insisting her ideas are out of touch with reality.
Last week, seven corporate agriculture interest groups sued the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to halt the extension of a public comment period on a proposed mega-dairy expansion in Winona County, Minnesota. The suit highlights broader efforts by agribusiness to silence opposition from rural residents who speak out against large concentrated animal feeding operations in their communities. (No paywall)
A coalition of 55 environmental, agricultural, and food-safety organizations signed a letter urging the Iowa General Assembly pass a moratorium on new and expanded factory farm development in the state. Iowa currently houses nearly 23 million hogs, a record for the state and the highest number in the country.
Large farms, with more than $1 million a year in gross income, nearly doubled their share of U.S. agricultural production in the past quarter-century, says USDA's Economic Research Service. As production shifted to larger farms, so did crop subsidies and crop insurance indemnities, says the ERS, which made the comparison on inflation-adjusted revenue figures.
Big Ag is back on the offensive in Oklahoma, less than a year after voters defeated a bill that would have stripped the state’s residents of their ability to regulate corporate farming. The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association wants ranchers to pay an additional $1 tax per head of cattle sold in the state, and will hold a Nov. 1 vote on the tax for Oklahoma cattle producers. Family farm advocates say that much of the money collected under such checkoff taxes is funneled to private industry groups that use it to promote the interests of corporate agriculture over independent farmers.
JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, will sell its Five Rivers Cattle Feeding operation as part of a global divestiture plan intended to generate $1.8 billion. Five Rivers operates feedlots in six western states with a combined capacity of 980,000 head and manages a 75,000-head feedlot in Alberta.
Art Cullen, co-owner of the Storm Lake Times, published twice a week in northwestern Iowa, won the Pulitzer Prize "for editorials fueled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing that successfully challenged powerful corporate agricultural interests in Iowa." The editorials criticized county officials for letting agricultural interests dictate their response to a lawsuit by the Des Moines Water Works over nutrient runoff and held agriculture responsible for polluted waters.
Hawaiian lawmakers killed a bill that would have required agribusiness companies like Monsanto and Syngenta to notify nearby residents before spraying pesticides, says Civil Beat. “Reporting provisions requiring notifications for each application would be very onerous and difficult to carry out,” testified Warren Mayberry, DuPont Pioneer’s senior manager of government affairs.
The fight over North Dakota's ban on corporate farming continues in federal court despite a June referendum in support of the 1932 law. The North Dakota Farmers Union, which spearheaded the successful referendum, asked for permission to intervene in the lawsuit, said the Fargo Forum.
A statewide referendum in North Dakota tomorrow will let voters decide whether to make an exception for hog and dairy farms from the state ban on corporate farming. It may not be the final word, however, since the state Farm Bureau filed suit in federal court early this month in hopes of overturning the 1932 law that bans corporate farms altogether.
The North Dakota Farmers Union "has funded almost all the campaign" to retain a ban on corporate farming in the state, says The Associated Press.