RE: Future Generations of Family Farmers

Hal Hamilton (hhamilton@centerss.org)
Mon, 9 Aug 1999 12:42:14 -0400

One of the interesting things about some of the "Appelation d'Origine Controllee" (name of origin controlled) cheeses in France is that the farmers voluntarily mandate to themselves a production control system in order to keep supply in line with demand, actually to limit supply in order to maintain a high priced niche. Hal

Hal Hamilton
Center for Sustainable Systems
433 Chestnut St., Berea KY 40403 USA
Phone: (606) 986-5336; Fax: (606) 986-1299
hhamilton@centerss.org

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-sanet-mg@ces.ncsu.edu [mailto:owner-sanet-mg@ces.ncsu.edu]On
Behalf Of Mark Ritchie
Sent: Monday, August 09, 1999 12:29 PM
To: Harris, Craig; Paul Schmitmeyer; Sanet; 'Jim Worstell'
Subject: RE: Future Generations of Family Farmers

peanuts
sugar
some marketing orders
tobacco
a few dairy coops I think

At 10:58 AM 8/9/99 -0400, Harris, Craig wrote:
>jim,
>could you say a little bit more about the "few supply management programs
>left in the U.S." . . . perhaps a list or some brief description
>thanks,
>craig
>
>craig k harris
>department of sociology
>michigan state university
>429b berkey hall
>east lansing michigan 48824-1111
>tel: 517-355-5048
>fax: 517-432-2856
>
>
>> ----------
>> From: Jim Worstell[SMTP:jvworstell@futura.net]
>> Sent: Monday 9 August 1999 10:23 AM
>> To: Paul Schmitmeyer; Sanet
>> Subject: Re: Future Generations of Family Farmers
>>
>> Paul et al.,
>>
>> You have one good point: most farmers like to farm, not worry about
>> markets.
>> And that's exactly why Barbara is right. The only type of government
>> program which will help small and moderate sized family farms is some sort
>> of supply management based on allotments attached to the land. In such
>> programs, supply is managed so that farmers get a fair return, farmers
>> don't
>> have much worry about selling their crops, etc. and the taxpayers only
>> have
>> minor adminstrative costs
>>
>> The train wreck of present farm policy is resulting in a bipartisan $7-10
>> billion giveaway this year after a record $6.4 billion giveaway last
>> year.
>> But the ag economists are so wedded to their faulty assumptions that they
>> can't even see the cost of those assumptions, much less their effect on
>> family farms and rural communities.
>>
>> The few supply management programs left in the U.S. are the only ones
>> which
>> have resulted in prosperous family farms and rural communities.
>>
>> Jim Worstell
>> www.deltanetwork.org
>>
>>
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Paul Schmitmeyer <ps@erinet.com>
>> To: Sanet <sanet-mg@amani.ces.ncsu.edu>
>> Sent: Monday, August 09, 1999 7:14 AM
>> Subject: Fw: Future Generations of Family Farmers
>>
>>
>> > Hi all,
>> > First off, you offer some very good points! There are some areas I
>> would
>> > like to offer my view points on. I have had some first hand experience
>> in
>> > direct sales, that is farmers to consumers. The problem is most farmers
>> are
>> > not good direct marketers. They aren't good at it and DON'T want to do
>> it.
>> > It's not part of their farming plan. Not to say you arn't right, it's
>> just
>> > that most people won't do it.
>> > A note on dairying program like the one in Canada, most of them are
>> not
>> > happy at all with their program. They DO give up a lot of their freedom
>> to
>> > do what they do.
>> > Go with God,
>> > Smitty
>> >
>> > -----Original Message-----
>> > From: Barbara R Buchmayer <organic-harvest@juno.com>
>> > To: sanet-mg@ces.ncsu.edu <sanet-mg@ces.ncsu.edu>
>> > Date: Sunday, August 08, 1999 7:36 PM
>> > Subject: Future Generations of Family Farmers
>> >
>> >
>> > >Dear Marian
>> > >
>> > >My view of where future farmers will come from is quite different
>> from
>> > >Ann Clark's.
>> > >
>> > >My husband and I have farmed for about 20 years, never quite
>> conventional
>> > >farmers more like lunatic fringe. We have known a lot of conventional
>> > >family farmers and have seen some of them evolve into sustainable or
>> > >organic farmers. We have also known and been friends with the "new
>> > >"farmers, those that have chosen to farm but were not really raised on
>> a
>> > >farm or even in a rural area. In fact my husband is from a century
>> farm
>> > >and I was raised in the 5 acre suburbs, but I always knew I was to be a
>> > >farmer.
>> > >
>> > >We have recently started bottling our organic milk and selling it in a
>> > >metropolitan area. So after 20 years we have moved from intensive
>> > >grazing on our dairy to not only being graziers but being organic and
>> > >adding value as well.
>> > >
>> > >I believe the future family farmers will be four major groups,
>> depending
>> > >on how you define "family farmers". These groups being: traditional
>> > >farmers that have evolved into direct marketers or value-adders or
>> both;
>> > >"new" farmers that are innovative but not terribly tied to the land;
>> > >contract growers that really are surfs on their own farms for some
>> large
>> > >corporation; and large conventional farmers.
>> > >
>> > > 1) The strongest or toughest of these will be the farmers that
>> > >have evolved or young farmers with traditional backgrounds that are
>> > >drawn to sustainable farming as the only alternative they and the land
>> > >can live with. These are the people who are committed to farming and
>> > >will work their butts off because they can see no other meaningful use
>> > >for their lives that can provide comparable satisfaction. These
>> people
>> > >know how to work and we are talking 80 hours a week as being nothing
>> > >unusual. Some will evolve because they realize it is the right
>> direction
>> > >for them and others will be forced by finances to change or get out.
>> > >
>> > > 2) The "new" farmers will be around, from my experience about 5
>> > >years before they realize they don't have the skills, money, commitment
>> > >or whatever it does take to hang in there. They will add much depth
>> and
>> > >bring a lot of diversity to the farming community but in the end they
>> > >really aren't committed to the land and will move on to greener
>> pastures
>> > >in other career areas. These are the ones that want to farm, have a
>> lot
>> > >to offer the ag community but really don't want to sacrifice too much.
>> > >
>> > > 3) The contract growers will survive on their farms but most of
>> > >their freedom will have been taken from them in exchange for security.
>> I
>> > >don't have a clue how large this group will be but I doubt there will
>> be
>> > >very many "happy campers" among them.
>> > >
>> > > 4) Large conventional farmers will still be around. There seems
>> > >to be no limit in size for these guys and yet they truly are family
>> owned
>> > >and managed farms. How many dairy cows can one farmer deal with? Ten
>> ,
>> > >twenty or maybe even thirty thousand. Its not for me but they are
>> > >expanding every day with the only limits in sight being laws governing
>> > >total numbers of animals per acre and "safe" manure disposal.
>> > >
>> > >Sadly, I don't see a lot of farmers able or willing to be direct
>> > >marketers or value-adders or a lot of "new" farmers with the resources
>> > >and desire to make a go of it. I would like to see lots of sustainable
>> > >and organic farmers for the good of the land and future generations.
>> > >
>> > >I think if we really want to have lots of family farmers we would have
>> to
>> > >impose some type of quota system guaranteeing good prices for specific
>> > >amounts of commodity with any overage selling at much lower market
>> > >prices. Something similar to the dairy quotas in Canada with all the
>> > >pros and cons inherent to a quota system. It boils down to: Are we
>> > >willing to trade our freedom and independence for security?
>> > >
>> > >How far are we willing to go to preserve the family farm?
>> > >
>> > >Barb Buchmayer
>> > >Green Hills Harvest
>> > >organic-harvest@juno.com
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >___________________________________________________________________
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Mark Ritchie, President
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
2105 First Ave. South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404 USA
612-870-3400 (phone) 612-870-4846 (fax)
mritchie@iatp.org www.iatp.org

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