How to help new farmers grow

The Washington Post - - POWER POST -

The Nov. 24 front-page ar­ti­cle “A grow­ing move­ment” was en­cour­ag­ing to those who want to see more healthy or­ganic food avail­able in stores and farmers mar­kets. Small farms are clearly grow­ing at a very fast pace. “Har­vest­ing Op­por­tu­nity,” a re­port re­leased this past sum­mer by the Fed­eral Re­serve Bank of St. Louis, shows that the de­mand for lo­cal food is grow­ing quickly, too. Th­ese new farmers will play a crit­i­cal role in meet­ing this de­mand, but they will need sup­port and as­sis­tance to scale up their busi­nesses.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment can play an im­por­tant sup­port­ing role by help­ing th­ese farmers ac­quire land, learn more about the farm busi­ness and ob­tain crop in­surance to avoid be­ing wiped out by a poor grow­ing sea­son. The farm bill, sched­uled for re­newal in 2018, can ac­com­plish this goal. Un­for­tu­nately, the farm bill usu­ally is de­voted to sup­port­ing big-scale in­dus­trial agri­cul­ture. Congress must pro­vide much greater sup­port for this new wave of farmers if they are to be suc­cess­ful in the long run. Other­wise, this “grow­ing move­ment” will die on the vine.

Dou­glas Hillmer, Sil­ver Spring

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