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Recent posts by Brian Depew

100 Years of Anti-Corporate Farming Laws

Thanks to the folks at the Organic Consumers Association for reminding us of this article on the importance of anti-corporate farming laws. It has new resonance in light of  the recent decision by the Nebraska legislature to allow meatpackers to own hogs prior to slaughter (LB 176). I offer it as a #tbt look back into our archives on this essential issue.

Who grows our nation’s food and how they grow it continues to gain new national prominence. Now more than ever, there is a national interest in building an agricultural system that benefits family farms and rural communities, and a system that is not controlled by large, corporate interests.

This effort to limit corporate control of our farming system has deep roots in the Midwest, where nine states have passed laws restricting corporate farming over the last 100 years. Oklahoma has the oldest corporate farming law in the nation. Originally embedded in the state constitution in 1907, the provision prohibited all corporate ownership in agricultural production.

Nebraska Ban on Packer Ownership of Livestock is Constitutional

As Nebraska lawmakers debate the state’s ban on meatpacker ownership of hogs, opponents of the law are raising a new argument about the constitutionality of the ban. We believe the present law is constitutional, and we urge lawmakers to oppose LB 176 on final reading.

The argument being lodged against the ban on packer ownership is that the current law violates the equal protection clause. The same argument was lodged against Nebraska's anti-corporate farming law, Initiative 300.

A Policy Agenda to Support Beginning Farmers

Since the Center for Rural Affairs began, we have been engaged in the debate over who will steward the land a generation hence.

In the last two farm bills, we helped pass new policy to support beginners. Wins included training programs, set-asides within farm conservation and financing programs, and increased support for new market development. These are good building blocks for a beginning farmer policy agenda.

Despite these gains, the share of beginning farmers continues to decline. Data shows beginners are more likely to farm smaller acreages and have smaller farm incomes – sometimes much smaller.

Rural People and Rural Landscapes Intrigue

Rural people sell themselves short when it comes to the art and culture that exists in our communities. Too often we head to the city to take in our fill of culture.

Last year I visited a rural arts collective on the eastern plains of Colorado. They call themselves M12, and they’ve set up shop in an old feed store in the hardscrabble town of Byers.

Richard Saxton, founder of M12, uses his work to explore the compelling landscapes that surround us in rural places. The results lift up the fascinating stories that make up our small towns.

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