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MN Farmer to Congress: Protect Small Producers, Food Security

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022   

A U.S. House subcommittee held a hearing Tuesday highlighting the threat climate change poses to the world's food supply, and how farmers can be assisted in adopting solutions.

Testimony included input from a Minnesota farmer.

Bonnie Haugen, who has a dairy operation in Fillmore County, touted her farm's regenerative practices, including rotational grazing. She noted it can keep soil from eroding.

Haugen urged Congress to expand funding for programs which would incentivize farmers to implement climate-friendly practices and limit the presence of Confined Animal Feeding Operations.

"Please remember that big CAFO dairies are not the same as ours," Haugen explained. "They're like big-box stores, similar to a Walmart building in the middle of one of our small towns."

She and other witnesses argued corporate farms greatly contribute to harmful emissions from agriculture, which ultimately result in more extreme weather events, disrupting the growing and delivery of food. Republican committee members argued higher gas prices are a bigger threat to agriculture right now, along with regulations under the Biden administration.

Sarah Goldman, policy organizer for the Land Stewardship Project, said Haugen's testimony accurately captured the challenges farmers face in helping to reduce the impact of climate change as try to they maintain a healthy food supply.

"Supporting family farms is really a way to counterbalance some of those pressures that we've seen," Goldman contended.

Goldman added market concentration forces too many family farms out of business, and thinks there are not enough conservation resources to keep their land resilient and profitable.

"There's some great programs that are out there to support farmers doing regenerative, sustainable agriculture," Goldman acknowledged. "But there isn't enough funding."

Last year, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy reported 67% of farmers who applied to programs in the last decade were rejected, partly due to a lack of funding.

Goldman stressed she hopes the next Farm Bill will contain some solutions. It is due for reauthorization next year.


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