Decline of the family farm

(Ref. 311)
Problem Components
Policy issue area: Economics
Policy issue: Agriculture
Description: Careless policies of the Federal government are depressing many parts of rural America, causing the loss of large numbers of family farms and associated jobs.
Symptoms: Since 1981 750,000 farms went out of business; 1 million jobs in the rural economy are lost; many more small farmers are threatened with the loss of their farms; extensive psychological damage is caused to many by stress and worry; agribusiness conglomerates damage the soil and groundwater by excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides.
Causes: Government subsidies are being cut, while costs of production are rising; administration policies favor agribusiness and food processor conglomerates; Department of Agriculture policies are no longer supportive of small farmers.
Cost of problem: -
Solution Components
Resources: Agricultural research institutes; Federal and state governments; family farmers.
Goal: 1. Save existing family farms, as a valuable component of American society and source of traditional values
2. Encourage young people to reenter farming as a means of production and a way of life.
Program area: Rural development
Program-remedy: 1. Adopt a Family Farm Act, to help the small farmer
2. Institute a policy of fair prices and supply management of agricultural products
3. Negotiate international trade agreements that will help the marketing of agricultural products at fair prices
4. Create new programs designed to keep land in the possession of families (including debt moratoriums) and encourage the entrance of new families to farming
5. Develop diversification of crops and new markets for farm products.
Program-prevent: 1. Revise tax system and subsidies so that policies do not favor agribusinesses, tax sheltering, speculation, and other actions that harm the family farm
2. Link farm policy to the monetary and agricultural production environment, both national and global
3. Increase worldwide demand by raising standard of living of the developing nations.
Cost of program: -
Beneficiaries: Family farmers; small rural businesses serving farmers.

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