Big Ag and the Family Farm
Chad D. Schisler
Big Ag and the Family Farm
A way of life that dates back centuries is disappearing right in front of our eyes. The good old family farm is becoming extinct here in America, and big agribusiness (big Ag) and our wonderful government are both to blame. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the number of farms in the United States is in decline, going from about 6.8 million in 1935 to only about 2 million today. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is less farming going on. Here in the U.S., farms are producing more than ever. What it does mean is that farming ...view middle of the document...
The majority of young people these days are none too eager to choose farming as a career. A lot of the young adults who grew up on family farms have decided that investing hundreds of thousands of dollars or even more at times, in a business that requires you to work 12 to 14 hours per day or more for most of the year for sometimes extremely low wages is simply not a future that the look forward to.
Over the last few years or so, many family farmers have been forced to look into working second jobs just to be able to support their families. Many farm families are constantly on the verge of bankruptcy. For many of them it is an extremely tough and stressful way to live. Today less than 25 percent of all farms in America bring in gross revenues in excess of $50,000.
To top things off, the federal government and also state governments keep piling a countless amount of rules and regulations on to the backs of farmers. Big Ag has the resources to deal with the massive amount of regulations fairly well, but most family farms are not so fortunate. Year after year, the farming industry becomes even more centralized. If these trends continue, big Ag will eventually control nearly all the farmland here in America. There are some industries in which the amount of consolidation has been absolutely stunning. Take for instance, that between 1970 and today the United States has lost nearly 90 percent of its dairy farms.
Another factor that is shaping the farming industry today is the massive amount of power that the giant food processing conglomerates have accumulated. To this date, there are 10 corporations that control nearly all of the things that we as Americans eat and drink on a daily basis. The giant food processing conglomerates have a very large amount of influence over how food is grown in the United States today. Small farmers that try to go against the grain often have a very rough go of it. This is also true when it comes to the seed industry. For example, approximately 17 percent of all crops in the United States is grown using seeds from DuPont (Pioneer). Pioneer along with 2 other of the Big Ten seed companies, Monsanto and Cargill, spent more than $25 million to defeat the GMO labeling bill recently in the U.S. They are one of the largest chemical companies in the world—not farmers, not agricultural experts—chemical engineers.
This is also true with super seed company Monsanto. If you try to stand up against companies such as Monsanto, you are wandering into very dangerous territory. Monsanto’s predatory business practices have been well documented. Monsanto has taken a countless number of farmers to court, where they are completely and utterly ruthless. To add insult to injury, it certainly does not help matters that there seems to be a constant revolving door between Monsanto and Washington.
Astonishingly, in spite of all that stands in front of them, there are still some small farmers that are able to persevere through all of...