News Release

Farmers: Beyond the Drought


These analysts are available to talk about the drought and other issues facing farmers:

Director of program operations at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, which works with small (mostly African American) farmers, Zippert said: “What’s far more serious than the drought for our farmers is the price of agricultural commodities. They’re getting 3 or 4 cents a pound for watermelon… The prices that farmers are receiving are the same as 50 years ago… The farmers are not getting the full value of these products, a series of middlemen are. You have the food processors and the agribusiness corporations, which are achieving greater concentration and more buying power. Agriculture policy has subsidized them — and use of fertilizers, pesticides and gasoline — rather than sustainable agriculture. That’s bad for the environment and it’s bad for rural communities.”
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Director of the Food and Agriculture program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Vorley said: “The government is about to throw between $7 billion and $11 billion at U.S. agriculture because of the crisis of low prices. But this won’t address underlying issues… There is a near-record amount of subsidies in farming, but…the farmer’s share of the food dollar keeps shrinking and more is retained by processors, retailers and seed sellers. Farmers are also getting squeezed by having bought genetically engineered seeds from Monsanto and others that the Europeans are refusing to buy.”
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Education and communications director of the Nebraska Farmers Union, Herrin said: “Current farm policy has created exactly what the grain trade wants — and pays for with a few million dollars in campaign contributions each election cycle — lots of production and prices in freefall. And eventually, instead of two million farmers (down from six million in 1950), ConAgra and Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland hope to have just 55,000 farmers to deal with, locked into contracts with biopatents and leveraged to the bills of their seedcaps.”
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Rural outreach coordinator for GREEN (GrassRoots Environmental Effectiveness Network), Johnson said: “Much of farm policy is being advanced for the benefit of agribusiness, chemical, biotech, oil and insurance companies which are all connected with commodities marketers. The American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s most powerful farm lobby, advances policies that benefit these corporate interests, not average farmers.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167