Over the last six months, I’ve tried to learn as much as I could about our conventional food system and options to that system focused on sustainability. Many people from around the country (and world) have provided much insight, but also have shown me yet another polarizing issue in America.
With that, I am asking anyone interested in food, but especially farmers, to consider 10 questions that continue getting in the way of constructive, innovative and action-oriented conversations on how to make our food system stronger.
So, here is an opportunity to enlighten me (and others reading this blog) by answering 10 questions. Just remember the one ground rule – civility. I will not publish comments that unnecessarily attack one side or the other of this debate.
- Do most federal subsidies go to larger farms?
- Are all federal subsidies granted to farms growing commodity crops (monoculture in many instances)?
- Given #1 and #2, are small farms growing specialty crops (e.g., human edible fruits & vegetables) at a considerable financial disadvantage in the marketplace?
- Do you believe that consumer demand for sustainable and organic specialty crops exceeds supply?
- Do you believe that the farm lobby has less money than environmental lobbyists targeting the food supply (as opposed to the overall environmental field, which covers a lot beyond food)?
- If a subsidized farm no longer wants subsidies, what options are available to move away from them? Do you have any examples of farms that have successfully abandoned subsidized operations?
- I don’t know anyone disputing jam-packed shelves in our supermarkets and cheap food. What I do hear is a rapidly growing concern that cheap and edible food-like substances (i.e., highly processed food) do not necessarily equate to healthy. In fact, some research shows that with the decline in food prices, we are seeing an opposite increase in health care costs. Does this make sense?
- Do you consider organic and sustainable food “movements” or a food category, e.g., produce?
- Should there be more small-to-medium sized farms free to grow what they want to serve local markets?
- Should the government shift subsidies to those farms to level the playing field? Or should the government scale back subsidies?
I look forward to any and all responses.
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