Farm Aid busy making sure farmers stay afloat
WASHINGTON, Mo. -- It's hard to believe that Farm Aid is in its 24th year of existence. Founded in the mid-1980s at a time when farmers were reeling as a result of low prices, plummeting land values, rising interest rates and skyrocketing product...
WASHINGTON, Mo. -- It's hard to believe that Farm Aid is in its 24th year of existence. Founded in the mid-1980s at a time when farmers were reeling as a result of low prices, plummeting land values, rising interest rates and skyrocketing production costs, the organization still is chugging forward with its primary mission of saving the family farm.
Led by the ageless and indomitable Willie Nelson, Farm Aid brought its mission and its music to St. Louis with a concert and exhibits touting the "good foods" movement.
Family farmers still are facing many of the issues today that plagued them two decades ago along with new threats including the rise of factory farms.
On a national level, the increasing corporate concentration and industrialization of agriculture continues to replace family farms with factory farms that are controlled by large agribusinesses. Some say factory farms are the single biggest threat to the independence of the family farm.
Just as it is for any business, it's tough for the little guy to compete. But Farm Aid has done a commendable job of keeping the plight of the family farmer in the public eye. Farmers' appreciation of its efforts was evident at the recent concert as farmers from all over the country, many dressed in bib overalls, mingled with young people from St. Louis and its suburbs who came mainly to hear the music.
We take farmers for granted. We shouldn't. They are a critical part of our state and local economy. In fact, Missouri has more farms -- almost 108,000 -- than any state other than Texas. More than 96 percent of those farms are family-owned.
The loss of family farms has consequences that we should all pay attention to. For one thing, it hurts local economies. Independent farmers invest in their local communities to purchase supplies and services needed on their farms, keeping these dollars circulating closer to home.