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Op-ed: Bill must support small farmers

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The title of an opinion piece in the June 8 Los Angeles Times — “America Needs a Farm Bill that Works” — is precisely why I think members of Congress need to be committed to pushing forward a bipartisan piece of legislation. A 2012 farm bill will help provide infrastructure, investment and economic certainty for American agriculture, things that are critical for an industry that impacts all Americans, in communities big or small. But in order for the bill to be effective in providing these things, it must support small farmers and nutritional programs that are key components to the viability and health of an agriculture economy.

According to the Economic Research Services housed in U.S. Department of Agriculture, during the last census there were more than 2.1 million farms in the U.S., of which 75 percent earned less than $50,000 annually and had about 5 percent production, while the very large farms, representing just 2 percent of all farms, made more than $1 million and had 47 percent production.

In the 2008 farm bill, Congress did institute initiatives encouraging local farmers to grow and sell food to local vendors, including school systems. For instance, in the state of North Carolina, citizens are encouraged to buy locally. Various grocery store chains, military bases and local schools are encouraged to purchase from local farmers. As a result, the local farm economy is benefiting and healthy foods are more accessible.

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Bless your heart
Bless your heart