June 4, 2010
On June 2, the day before USDA’s National Rural Summit, Farm Aid released a new report entitled “Rebuilding America’s Economy with Family Farm-Centered Food Systems.” NSAC’s Ferd Hoefner, Shepherd’s Grain’s Karl Kupers, and Fred Kirschenmann with the Leopold Center joined Farm Aid in a press briefing on the role family farmers and local and regional food systems can play in economic recovery efforts.
Report author, Alicia Harvie, expressed this hope for the Summit: “Unfortunately, the very farmers that can help revive our economy — small and mid-sized farmers — are in jeopardy because of tightening credit, volatile markets and rising production costs. Tomorrow’s National Summit of Rural America has the potential to be a historic turning point for how we grow food in this country. We can grow in ways that increase wealth for communities and promote health for all Americans; we hope the outcomes from this meeting are in line with this vision.”
The report highlights success stories from the field, including Indian Springs Farmers Association in Mississippi, Shepherd’s Grain in the Pacific Northwest, Red Tomato in the Northeast, and Community Farm Alliance’s Local Innovative Farm Economies program in Kentucky. Additional examples are provided in slides on the website for the report.
The report lays out the challenge of renewing agriculture to be a bigger job creator with these words: “The structure of today’s food economy is not inevitable; rather it is a reflection of choices. The future we seek is a matter of making the choice to crease and strengthen local and regional markets that support family farmers, and in turn fortify the health and prosperity of all Americans. The challenge before us, then, is to think creatively about policies, funding resources, prospects for cross-sector collaboration and community mobilization strategies that can best achieve this vision.”