small farmers

USDA puts into action its pledge to expand meat industry capacity

Three months ago, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the USDA would commit $500 million to expand meat and poultry processing capacity and create a more competitive livestock market. "I believe it is going to leverage literally billions of dollars in investment from investors and local governments," said Vilsack at a meat locker plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

‘Fairness for Farmers’ campaign targets market power of big companies

Buoyed by a Biden administration pledge to vigorously police agricultural mergers, the National Farmers Union launched the nationwide "Fairness for Farmers" campaign on Wednesday to restore competition in the marketplace. "This endeavor has clear goals: to curtail consolidation in agriculture and bust the monopolies, which negatively impact farmers, ranchers, and consumers," said NFU president Rod Larew.

Dairy farmers to get pandemic payments due to market volatility

In an expansion of its pandemic portfolio, the Biden administration said it would pay an estimated $350 million to dairy farmers to offset lower milk prices caused by market abnormalities during the second half of 2020. The payments will benefit farms with smaller herds the most.

Senators propose loan forgiveness for small farmers

The Agriculture Department would offer small farmers one-time loan forgiveness of up to $250,000 under legislation announced by five Democratic senators on Thursday. Lead sponsor Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she would try to include debt relief in the upcoming infrastructure bill "to make certain our farmers are not left behind."

Juneteenth celebrated by African American farmers

For Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the emancipation of African American slaves in the United States, an organization known as A Growing Culture hosted a day-long internet broadcast on Friday featuring the voices of black farmers and gardeners and the fight in black communities for a just food system.(No paywall)

Produce safety rule will weigh heaviest on small growers

The smallest fruit and vegetable growers will pay comparatively more than big operators to comply with the so-called Produce Rule from the FDA — as much as 6.8 percent of their sales compared with less than 1 percent for big farmers, said three USDA economists on Wednesday.

Pingree mulls run for governor of Maine

Fifth-term Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, a leading advocate in the House for small farmers and farmers’ markets, is considering a run for governor of Maine in 2018, says the Portland Press Herald.

USDA delays fair-play rule for livestock marketing until April 22

In line with the regulatory freeze announced when President Trump took office, the USDA said it was delaying for 60 days, until April 22, the implementation of a new fair-play rule that makes it easier for livestock producers to prove unfair treatment at the hands of packers and processors. The largest cattle, hog and broiler chicken groups say the rule, issued in mid-December after being blocked for years by Congress, is the Obama administration's revenge on farmers for voting for Trump.

NFU in Wisconsin elects Muslim woman as president

At nearly the same time that Wisconsin voters backed Donald Trump for president, the members of a National Farmers Union chapter in central Wisconsin elected the first Muslim as county president in the organization's history. The new president, Alicia Razvi, is a recent entrant to farming and operates a community-supported agriculture farm near Stevens Point, says the NFU.

Small-scale farmers embrace monoculture in rain forest

Just like the operators of large-scale plantations, small-scale farmers in Southeast Asia chop down rain forests to plant oil palm trees, says a study led by a researcher from Lund University in Sweden. “For the great majority of small farmers, chopping down diverse forests and investing in a single species of tree – monoculture – is the simplest and quickest path out of poverty," says the researcher Yann Clough.

Biointensive farms in U.S. a model for smallholder farmers

Biointensive farming, which includes close plant spacing, use of seeds from plants that have been naturally pollinated and specific food-to-compost crop ratios, "produces far greater yields than conventional agriculture while using far less land and water," Ensia magazine reports, and is especially well-suited to small-scale farmers in Latin America and Africa looking for low-cost, low-tech solutions to grow food.

Low-cost and low-tech, biointensity may boost small farmers

Biointensive agriculture, a low-cost and low-tech format, could be life-changing for the small farmers of the world, who must earn a living from four acres (two hectares) or less of land, says Ensia. The system uses less fertilizer, water and energy to produce the same amount of food as conventional agriculture, writes Bob Cooper.

Drought and dry wells are added burden for Hmong farmers

More than four dozen of the 900 Hmong farmers in Fresno County say the five-year California drought is affecting their operations, mostly by drying up the wells they need to water their crops, says the Sacramento Bee. The refugees from Southeast Asia account for the bulk of the 1,500 small farms in the county and most of them earn a modest income from their rented land, so there is no easy solution.

UN rapporteur decries ‘dysfunctional global food systems’

Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, recounts the shortcomings of the food system in a commentary in Business Day, a South African newspaper: "(T)he ability of millions to...