Sunday, September 02, 2007

Iowa Farmers Prevented from Diversifying Crops by Federal Rules

Iowa farmers who want to diversify the crops they grow and provide local food are prevented from doing so by federal agriculture rules.

From Eat Local Challenge...

Iowa farmer Gary Boysen grows sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, cantaloupes and other produce on 65 acres near Harlan. He sells his produce at nearby supermarkets and Wal-Mart. And he would like to be growing more fruit and vegetables for Iowans. However, a big obstacle is standing in his way: federal agricultural rules.

If farmers want to plant fruit and vegetable crops on land enrolled in USDA subsidy programs, they must permanently give up the possibility of receiving benefits. Not just for the period when they are growing non-program crops. Permanently.

Many people want to buy locally produced fruits and vegetables and this rule is preventing farmers from providing that. If Iowans would diversify their agriculture, a lot of money could be kept in the state.

These rules seem to favor large commercial farmers that want to keep their access to markets across the country. For example, large tomato farmers in California wouldn't want Iowa farmers to grow tomatoes and sell them in Iowa because they would lose out. Hopefully, these rules can be changed in the Farm Bill.

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