Advocates call for Farm Bill reforms to protect family farms in Missouri

Barn and silos in a field (farm land)

Advocates for Missouri’s small family farms gathered at the U.S. Capitol to discuss potential improvements in the upcoming Farm Bill. Their focus is on enhancing protection for the nation’s food resources and family farmers.

A coalition of nearly 200 groups has addressed a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. They urge a reevaluation of conservation practices in the Farm Bill that currently supports factory farms, citing their contribution to local pollution issues.

Tim Gibbons, Communications Director for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, criticized the USDA’s policy allowing large-scale farms to receive “climate-smart” conservation payments. He described this as a contentious issue, impacting both the environment and the agricultural sector.

Gibbons emphasized the importance of directing taxpayer funds toward family farmers. He stressed the need for consumer access to locally grown and harvested farm products. Despite the Farm Bill’s expiration in September, Congress has yet to pass a new version.

He also expressed concerns about the Inflation Reduction Act. Gibbons suggested it should include measures to safeguard small farmers and prevent large-scale farms from exploiting tax incentives.

“Factory farms are significant contributors to environmental degradation and climate change,” said Gibbons. “It’s unfair for Missouri and U.S. taxpayers to finance their cleanup efforts. They should be responsible for their own environmental impact.”

The letter to Secretary Vilsack highlights that industrial farming practices worsen climate change, misuse taxpayer funds, and adversely affect Indigenous and marginalized communities. These issues contradict the objectives of the Inflation Reduction Act.