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Posted on Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

New farm bill needs to level the playing field for small, local farms

By Letters to the Editor

Congratulations to our local farmers for making Michigan one of the top 10 states for winter farm markets (Kim Bayer, “In praise of winter vegetables and winter farmers markets,” Feb. 7).

The Ann Arbor Farmers' Market is a great place to find fresh food and lively people, and I am proud to see it thrive.

If we want to see fresh, local food in our grocery stores and farmers' markets, we need to support our local farmers. Large corporate agribusinesses are driving out small- and mid-sized farms; over the five years leading up to the last Farm Bill, around 27,000 independent farms were driven out of business nationwide. We need a Farm Bill that provides a level playing field for small producers by addressing competition in the food industry.

Congress is working on a new Farm Bill this year, and because Senator Stabenow is chair of the Agriculture Committee, here in Michigan we have the unique opportunity to help shape farm policy by making our voices heard.

Let's keep Michigan's farms strong and competitive! Call on Senator Stabenow to support a competition title in this year's Farm Bill.

Kate Coenen
Ann Arbor



Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 4:28 a.m.

I'm sick of rich farmer, the government should just take over all farming. Then we wouldn't have to worry about trusting our food supply.

Ricardo Queso

Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

Thank you Great Leader, Eternal President, father of Dear Leader.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 9:14 p.m.

As a person who lived in a 120 person farming community and worked as a hired hand for farmers in Kansas during high school & college. It isn't GMO, or subsidies, etc that is killing the family farm; it's that the kids don't want to there anymore. Where I'm from there aren't any corporate farms, but there are getting fewer and fewer farmers. Only two people in my high-school class stayed on to be a farmer rather than another career, one after going to college the other took over. The other farms either have completely sold off when the father/grandfather died to other local farmers who grow in size or they simply rent their land to others. Sure you'll find a number of examples of families maintaining farmers through generations where the children are continuing it; but most are not. They are sending their kids off to college to become (examples of farm kids from my class): graphics artist, pediatrician, accountant, etc. The best way to combat the so called "corporate farms" is to give farm kids a reason to be on the farm. My grandfather was a farmer, and farmed until he was over 80; his farm wasn't large enough to sustain both him and my father so my father went into the military and came back and worked for the local grain co-op. When my grandfather retired, my father already had 30+ years at the co-op and was in his late 50's and I was already working in the computer industry. Most of the land and equipment was sold to other local farmers (some land is rented out to others), it wasn't corporate farms, GMO, government, etc that terminated my grandfathers farming lineage it just went away when he did. As this happens more and more, the local farmers that were originally the same size will get bigger and bigger as people fade out of farming until they are considered part of the "evil corporate farms". So called "leveling" won't do anything, getting people to want to be farmers would.


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

This is a very good comment because it is "from the horses mouth" so to speak. This has been going on for years, ever since the song "How Ya' Going to Keep Them Down on the Farm" was popular back in the 40's. Farm work is hard work, strenuous, long hours and low pay. Farmers close to urban areas end up selling out to developers in order to have a retirement fund. Small farms get gobbled up by larger farms which in turn end up selling off to corporations. We have practiced monoculture (growing corn and soybeans) for so many years now that it is a way of life. Monsanto knows that, and has found a way that perpetuates it by creating GMO's. I believe that the best we can hope for now is resident in the CSA Farming concept. Preferably organic CSA farms. We need to educate ourselves on which seed companies are owned by the large corporations as well. Monoculture is slowly killing the people of the world.

G. Orwell

Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

" Large corporate agribusinesses are driving out small- and mid-sized farms; over the five years leading up to the last Farm Bill, around 27,000 independent farms were driven out of business nationwide." That is by design so that the Feds can get us eating more and more dangerous GMO crops. Don't expect much from Stabenow and Obama admin. Not as long as people like Michael Taylor, former lawyer for Monsanto, is the Food Safety Czar. The Obama admin. is in bed with Monsanto, GE, Goldman Sach, etc. They are getting ready to do further damage to the family and organic farms by passing more regulations small farms must follow while Big Ag gets waivers. Not only should we buy local, we need to grow our own food.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

I agree that we need local farms, local produce and a competitive market, not one consisting of major corporations. I certainly intend to get a letter writing campaign going, and I will be calling Senator Stabenow. Thanks for your letter.

G. Orwell

Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

"Large corporate agribusinesses are driving out small- and mid-sized farms; over the five years leading up to the last Farm Bill, around 27,000 independent farms were driven out of business nationwide." This is by design to feed us dangerous GMO crops and to control food production. Don't expect much from Stabenow. Not as long as you have people like Michael Taylor, former lawyer for Monsanto, as Obama's Food Safety Czar. The Obama admin. is getting ready really screw family and organic farms. Farmers need to stand up for themselves Nd they need support.


Sun, Feb 26, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

Totally agree. No subsidies to anyone seem like a level field.