On USDA’s Web site the publication “For the Good of the People” can be found. This publication provides food for thought. Conservation programs, which save precious soil from wind or water erosion and benefit wildlife, are easy for both urban and rural consumers to understand and accept.
However, subsidy payments are not so easily understood. For that reason you will see a great deal of negative publicity for USDA farm programs especially when congress is negotiating a new Farm Bill. Urban folks, who have no connection to the farm, have no understanding about what is needed to farm the land or why subsidies are necessary. USDA-FSA subsidies help provide stability in rural America and for the agricultural economic sector, besides providing US consumers an affordable, safe and abundant food supply. For example, in India 51.3 percent of a person’s income is needed to supply adequate food for their family; in Mexico 24.5 percent, South Africa 27.5 percent, Japan 17.6 percent, etc.
In the U.S. only 10 percent of our income is spent on food, partly because of USDA subsidies, and also because of state of the art agricultural technology, hybrid seed with high yield potential, availability of crop insurance, the list of reasons why goes on and on. Unlike a manufacturer, nobody who farms gets to set a price for the commodities they produce so that a profit is guaranteed after all the various input costs are covered. Farmers do not get the option of regulating the sunshine, temperatures, and rainfall, to be certain of a good yield. At least, with farm programs, some financial certainty is offered to offset these unstable aspects of agricultural production. Farming is a highly volatile occupation, with agriculture recognized by our lawmakers as the root of our U.S. economic structure.
Today, 99 percent of the farms in the United States are owned by individuals, family partnerships, or corporations with fewer than 10 stockholders.
Only 1 percent of farms are owned by non-family corporations with family corporations owning 3 percent, family partnerships 6 percent, and individuals owning a whopping 90 percent.
You can read the negative press and listen to news reporters maligning the farm programs, but in most cases, farmers need these programs to survive.
More importantly, consumers need these programs to ensure the quality and availability of our food supplies continue. Currently we have no new information in regard to the 2008 Farm Bill.
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“Annie’s” Project: If you have not already done so, mark your calendars so this opportunity does not pass you by. Annie’s Project will be presented by the Ohio State Extension Service of Erie County. The program is designed to help farm women develop their management and decision making skills in the complex and dynamic world of agriculture. It is the project’s mission to empower farm women to be better business partners through networks and by managing and organizing critical information. Classes will be held at the EHOVE Joint Vocational School at 316 W. Mason Road in Milan. All classes will be held on Thursday evenings and will begin at 5:45 with a light dinner, and will end at 9.
Classes will get underway on Jan. 17 and run through Feb. 21. This comprehensive course will provide information on communication, tax management, retirement planning, crop insurance, basics of grain marketing, financial statements and record keeping, and an update on farm loan, FSA, NRCS programs that are available to assist producers. Experts in the various course areas will be on hand to present the information and answer any questions you may have.
At just $60 for the course which includes all course information, dinner, and an opportunity to share your experience with others this program is the best bargain of the season. The class is limited to provide the optimum one on one experience. With registration limited to the first 20 women to respond you need to contact Zach Rinkes, the OSU Extension educator for Erie County at (419) 627-7631 today.
Diana Strouse is the county executive director for the Huron and Erie County Farm Service Agency. For more information, call the agency at (419) 668-4113.