Farmers Occupy the Food System
Feb 27, 2012
A recent effort called Occupy the Food System, spearheaded by Willie Nelson and several others who are against corporate farming, is stirring farmers across the country.
In a story Nelson wrote
for the Huffington Post, he says, "No one knows this [the power that corporations wield] better than family farmers, whose struggle to make a living on the land has gotten far more difficult since corporations came to dominate our farm and food system." He continues to say the problem existed when he helped start Farm Aid, but that it has since exploded.
Brian Scott is a family farmer and in his post addressing the story
he writes, "As you may know, I happen to be part of a family farm. I’m the 4th generation to work this land. I’ve seen a lot of posts online about how corporations control farms or farmers are slaves to 'Big Ag.' People claim that we are beholden to them and have to sign unfair contracts to be privileged enough to use their seed. They’ll also claim that the contracts rope us into buying other inputs like pesticides and herbicides from the same company. We get a lot of our seed from big corporations like the 'evil' Monsanto, and since Farm Aid seems to be jumping in with Occupy, I wanted to know what they think about some of the genetically modified crops we grow on our farm."
Nelson also writes, "Our food system belongs in the hands of many family farmers, not under the control of a handful of corporations." He is, in fact, right. Our food system does belong in the hands of family farmers. In 2010, USDA reported
, "Family farms of different sizes account for 98 percent of farms and 82 percent of production." The same report showed that the percentage of production on "large-scale family farms" was higher than all the other sectors combined, including nonfamily farms.
So what’s with all this corporate farm business? Many family farms become corporations for tax purposes; however, this doesn’t mean they are no longer family-owned and -operated. The change is nothing more than a new name and business plan for the farm, it is no reflection on the quaility of crops they produce or the values they have as a family.
Right now, many farmers across the country are beginning to think about planting their crops. Most of them have already purchased seed and some of those from companies like Monsanto. Isn’t purchasing the seed from a company like Monsanto the right thing to do? Farmers receive something in return for their crop, so why wouldn’t they pay for the tools to do so? It is no different than a smallholder family farm purchasing hens to produce eggs that will then be sold at the farmers market; it’s just a different business model.