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Expert warns of upcoming threats to democracy across the nation; Judge in Trump documents case rejects suggestions to step aside; NC businesses fear effects of 'bathroom bill'; Report says restaurants allow abuse, disease risk at MD animal farms.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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Rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town, prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands and a Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival.

IA small farm advocates call for less corporate land control

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author Mark Moran, Producer-Editor

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Friday, September 22, 2023   

Rural advocates are supporting the Farmland for Farmers Act in Congress. It would restrict the amount of Iowa farmland large corporations can own, and it is in response to foreign and domestic corporations buying up land and then renting it out.

As farmers start to retire, more than 40% of U.S. farmland will change hands in the next decade, but it might not wind up with young Iowans who want to farm.

Hannah Breckbill, co-farmer at Decorah-based Humble Hands Harvest in northeast Iowa, said out-of-state corporations buy the land and rent it to the highest bidder, keeping it out of local hands and driving land prices sky-high.

"Land prices have been going up and up and up," Breckbill observed. "In my career as a farmer -- which is not very long, only about a decade -- I've seen land prices more than double. And we need farmers to be on the ground, owning land."

Breckbill pointed out more than 50% of Iowa's 30 million acres of farmed land is rented and not locally owned. The Farmland for Farmers Act would restrict corporate investment, and supporters hope it is adopted as part of the new Farm Bill, scheduled to be debated this month.

Breckbill also helps overwhelmed young farmers find land in Iowa, and being a young farmer herself, has firsthand experience with navigating the daunting land acquisition process. She believes Iowa's farmland should be making a natural transition into the hands of beginning local farmers.

"We've gotten jobs on farms. We know how to farm. We have the skills. We have the knowledge. We have the capacity. We have the energy," Breckbill emphasized. "We just don't have the capital to be able to access the land."

The National Family Farm Coalition, which supports the Farmland for Farmers Act, released a fact sheet showing the average price of an acre of farmland in the U.S. has climbed to $3,800, the highest it has been since the 1970s. The Act has not yet received official support from Iowa's members of Congress.

Disclosure: The National Family Farm Coalition contributes to our fund for reporting on Environment, Rural/Farming, Social Justice, and Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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