Farmers and farmworkers should earn a fair price for their labor. And while we should support farmers, taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize large and well-financed farms that harm our environment. There are many ways the current system fails us, but OEFFA is committed to the long-term work needed to create marketplace equity.
That means ensuring that there are fair and competitive trading practices that benefit consumers and American agriculture. Rising consolidation among meatpacking and processing companies over the past few decades has steadily eroded fair competition within the poultry and livestock industries, and despite a law passed in 1921, special interests have succeeded in blocking rules to ensure a fair marketplace. Decades later, new rules are expected soon.
Another way to redress unfair competition and sustainable agriculture is by looking at taxpayer subsidies in the crop insurance program. The farm “safety net,” started in the 1930s when many farms were decimated by the Dust Bowl and low commodity prices, provides critical protection for American farmers from the uncertainties of weather and market fluctuations. The program has changed dramatically since that time with an average of 62 percent of crop insurance costs covered by American taxpayers.
Modernizing this important program will protect farmers and reward good conservation practices while ensuring beginning farmers are not put at an economic disadvantage.
We need to level the playing field for family farmers, protect beginning farmers’ access to land and credit, encourage environmental stewardship, and remove disincentives to innovation and diversified farming.