Down on the Farm

CAP Talks to Farmers About the Farm Bill

Family farmers say the current farm subsidy system is broken and badly in need of reform.

George Naylor is a corn and soybean farmer from Churdan, Iowa, and the president of the National Family Farm Coalition. Read the full interview Listen to the full interview:

Paul Rozwadowski is dairy farmer from Stanley, Wisconsin, and the chairman of the Dairy Subcommittee of the National Family Farm Coalition.

Read the full interview

Listen to the full interview:

It’s as American as apple pie and rural living—family farms and the hard-working men and women who run them, a much-romanticized vision of mornings at the crack of dawn, ruby red silos, and fields of gold. Yet due to flawed federal policies, this vision is becoming unattainable for the majority of family farmers.

The country has relied on legislation to help protect U.S. farmers from financial losses since the Great Depression. In recent years, subsidies have increasingly benefited agribusiness instead of the family farmers they were intended to protect. In 2005, 54 percent of all farm subsidies went to only 9 percent of the nation’s farms. Now, with the reauthorization of the Farm Bill, Congress has the opportunity to make concrete changes to the country’s farm policies.

The farm bill will be presented this week for debate in the full Senate. It is not too late to make the reforms needed to turn this legislation into a truly progressive approach to farm policy. To fix the system, we need to enhance the safety net for all U.S. farmers while imposing limits on the subsidies that encourage overproduction.

CAP talked to two small farmers about their experiences with farm policy and how U.S. policies toward agriculture are hurting the institution of the family farm.

Paul Rozwadowski, a dairy farmer from Stanley, Wisconsin, discusses changes he’s seen in his 28 years of farming and the increasing role of agribusiness in the farm debate. “The intent was a bill for farmers to help farmers,” says Rozwadowski, “and our government has gotten away from that.”

George Naylor, a corn and soybean producer from west-central Iowa who still tills the land owned by his family since 1918, says the Farm Bill keeps commodity costs low, which benefits large industrial livestock farms that need commodities for feed grain, but hurts small farmers. Naylor describes the loss of farms in his community, the growing recession, and the change from livestock to commodity crops, saying, “Things haven’t been going in a good direction for a long time here.”

For more information about CAP’s policies on the Farm Bill, see:

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