Big Farms Cause Big Problems

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Rachel Savage
Ms Cogburn
English 1A
13, May, 2013
Paper #4 Big Farms Cause Big Problems
California is a state known for its’ agriculture, and provides a good majority of the nations’ food. In the central valley, our rich soil, diverse biotic communities and eco-systems, provide an environment that allows a great variety of what our farmers can plant, however, many farmers do not utilize this ability. Instead farmers of big corporate farms are looking to make the most money possible, so they will only grow specialty crops which are subsidized by the government, and since only the farms growing specialty crops get subsidies, the ‘mom and pop’ farms begin to suffer. The big named agriculture corporate farms also support the governments’ decision to reroute river water, which would cause irreversible damage to the river and the local family farms that surround it. In addition, big corporate farms create an immense amount of pollution, and deposit large quantities of harmful pesticides into the air. Big agriculture corporate farms are wiping out small family farms with their subsidized crops, tainting the central valleys’ air by emitting vast amounts of pollution and pesticides and destroying California’s environment by influencing the government to reroute rivers.

Subsidizing farms, that only produce specialty crops cause local ‘mom and pop’ farms to suffer. “Ninety percent of all subsidies go to just five crops. . . [t]wo thirds of all farm products. . . receive almost no subsidies [a]nd just 10 percent of recipients receive 75 percent of all subsidies”( Agricultural Subsidies: Corporate Welfare for Farmers). As explained in the blog: Agricultural Subsidies: Corporate Welfare for Farmers, farm subsidies were originally set up after the great depression in 1930s’, back when nearly 25 percent of the population lived on farms. “Today only 1 percent of the population live on farms”(Agricultural Subsidies: Corporate Welfare for Farmers) and these farms are far more productive and successful than they were in the 30s’ though these subsides are still being used. The five crops that receive subsidies are corn, rice, cotton, wheat, and soybeans, all other produce (which is two thirds of all farm products) do not receive any help from the government. The farms that do not receive subsidies are the small local family farms usually seen on the side of the road selling the fruits and vegetables in homemade fruit stands . It has become so hard for small family owned farms that they can get more money selling their farm land to larger farm corporations, than they would by selling their produce. "From 1995-2009, the largest and wealthiest top 10 percent of farm program recipients received 74 percent of all farm subsidies, with an average total payment over 15 years of $445,127 per recipient"( Chapman). Big agriculture corporate farms that produce the five specialty crops receive government payments, yet if you go to the grocery store, you will find racks filled with tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli , etc grown by the small family farms. When you look at farming in California, there are two agriculture systems. One that is based on generous federal subsidies and the other relies on the open market and the free interaction of supply and demand, which are the small local family farms. For the farmers of small family farms, they plant, harvest and sell the crops, and if things go well they earn a profit, if not they do not. Supporters of farm subsidies have argued that “such programs stabilize agricultural commodity markets, aid low-income farmers, raise unduly low returns to farm investments, aid rural development, compensate for monopoly in farm input supply and farm marketing industries, help ensure national food security, offset farm subsidies provided by other countries, and provide various other services”(Sumner). These subsidies have been around for so long that farms have established themselves and develop accordingly , so they...
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