Family-farm squeeze

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

The (Independence, Mo.) Examiner

It's sad to see a way of life change so dramatically. New statistics show Missouri's number of farms continuous decline. The number of farms in our state has fallen to 106,000, nearly one-fourth fewer than the number 30 years ago. Smaller farms are the ones hit hardest.

America's farmers remain amazingly productive, providing affordable food for the nation and exports for the world. The average farm family, however, finds itself stretched tighter and tighter, as rural America undergoes dramatic changes that generally go unnoticed in cities and suburbs. ...

One of the cold realities of an increasingly globalized economy is that those who produce raw commodities -- soybeans, cattle, gold, timber, you name it -- have the least power in the marketplace. They are the most vulnerable to the whims of rising and falling prices.

Another reality of an increasingly globalized economy is the rise of what's derisively called corporate farming. The owners are following a clear demand of the marketplace: Get bigger to spread costs over a larger operation. In the process, however, it's often the family farmer who gets squeezed.

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