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The Decline Of The Family Farm

2120 words - 9 pages

Growing up on a small family wheat farm in southwestern Oklahoma, I have experienced the harsh conditions of farming firsthand. The job that used to employ the largest amount of people in the United States has lost the support and the respect of the American people. The Jeffersonian Ideal of a nation of farmers has been tossed aside to be replaced by a nation of white-collar workers. The family farm is under attack and it is not being protected. The family farm can help the United States economically by creating jobs in a time when many cannot afford the food in the stores. The family farm can help prevent the degradation of the environment by creating a mutually beneficial relationship ...view middle of the document...

When the crops fail, the prices increase due to low supply and high demand. The large producer reaps rewards due to geographically diverse lands, allowing for at least some production, but the small producer is located in a small area and experiences financial ruin due to production being totally wiped out. In great years and in terrible years, the small farmer struggles while the corporate farms succeed. Small local grain reserves regulated by a federal agency would provide a solution to this problem. In times of overabundance, the local reserves could hold the excess crops keeping the prices at an economically viable level for the small farmer. In years of crop failures, these reserves could open up to provide the supply the markets needs. The volatile price of farm commodities could be made stable through the careful management of the national supply.
The government’s largest policy on farming is the farm bill, passed every five years. The current farm bill focuses on producing as much agricultural products as possible without worrying about overabundance of food products or possible environmental harm. The government provides subsidies for many cash crops, providing a way for farmers to produce more crops than the market itself would support in terms of price. The problem with these general economic incentives is that they encourage the large corporate farms to grow these crops, undercutting the price at which the small farmers can produce the same crops. The solution to this problem is to create a scaled payout, with a larger reward paid to the small farms and gradually decreasing to no reward for huge corporations. This could be based around the current income tax system, with the deciding factor being gross income or total net worth of the farm. There would not be a significant increase in paperwork over the already complex system of subsidies and the resulting redistribution of these subsidies would allow for equal competition between farms of every size. The small family farm would receive a larger check than ever before, allowing the farmer to purchase the expensive equipment necessary to reduce production costs. Applying a scaled system of subsidy payments would allow for more farms to make economic sense, the only thing that matters in the current capitalist economy.
The government also provides support for specific methods of farming. In response to soil erosion and degradation, the government created the Conservation Reserve Program, something that my family has benefited from. This program paid a yearly fee for land planted in specific grasses and allowed to grow without outside interference. This allowed the soil to recover from the typical yearly monocropping, helping the land in the future produce a higher yield. The same problem exists with this program as exists with the broad subsidies, the corporate farms benefit more than the small family farms because they owned a greater amount of land able to be...

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