How to help new farmers grow
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