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Farmers, don’t despair

An Opinion

I was reading an article from the Washington Post about a farming family in Berkshire, NY that is having problems feeding their own family. They produce milk, eggs and meat and only have so much money a month to feed their family of seven. “We’re supposed to be feeding the world, and we can’t even put food on our own table,” Anne Lee stated. The article says Lee was thinking about food stamps and food pantries to help their family survive.

It’s quite amazing to me that we don’t pay our farmers more. I mean they are our life source. They provide food to sustain us.

I don’t have my own ‘victory garden’ to provide vegetables and fruits for my family.

History.com explains, “In March 1917, - just weeks before the United States entered the war – Charles Lathrop Pack organized the National War Garden Commission to encourage Americans to contribute to the war effort by planting, fertilizing, harvesting and storing their own fruits and vegetables so that more food could be exported to our allies.”

America is not at war but we could learn from our wartime ancestry since many people do not understand where their food comes from. However, if Americans start their own gardens, it would probably hit farmers harder.

The article from the Washington Post also states an estimated 197,000 farmers, farm workers, fishermen and forestry workers use SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) according to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The Trump administration gave many farmers federal bailout money this year as part of the $28 billion trade aid package for hurting farmers, “which has been criticized for benefiting large operations over family farms,” the Washington Post stated.

How does that affect the small time farmers?

Environmental Working Group (EWG) states farmers receive subsidies provided by the federal government as well to help agricultural producers manage the variations in production and profitability from year to year but the support is skewed toward the five major “program” commodities of soybeans, cotton, corn, rice and wheat. “Dairy and sugar producers have separate price and market controls that are highly regulated and can be costly to the government,” the EWG Farm Subsidy Primer states.

If a farmer isn’t producing those crops, they often are left out of the subsidy game, but they can sign up for subsidized crop insurance and often receive federal disaster payments.

There is a growing trend of Americans using nondairy products; however, there is good news for dairy farmers across the nation: The milkman is wanted to drop off milk at customer’s doorsteps. Many people also have subscriptions for home deliveries of planned meals that have all the ingredients needed to cook dinner which can cut food waste.

Food waste affects so many people. The US Department of Agriculture FAQs states food waste is estimated between 30-40 percent of the food supply based on estimates from USDA’s Economic Research Service which was approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. I think it’s because most of American consumers aren’t in touch with where their food comes from. They just know they can get it from the grocery store or order it online.

The Texas Farm Bureau President, Russell Boening, made a statement (which can be found on page A9 in this edition of The Citizen) following the vote by the U.S. House of Representatives approving the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) which builds on the success of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “Trade is vital to the livelihood of American farmers, consumers and the U.S. food industry,” said Boening. More information about the USMCA can be found at ustr.gov/trade-agreements/.

The way we see food and how it comes to us is changing. Our country still needs essential jobs to survive: farmers to grow food and employees to ship food.

Dublin Citizen

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