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Food System

According to the National Farmers Union, farmers and ranchers receive only 14.6 cents of every dollar consumers spend on food in the US. The rest of that dollar goes to marketing, processing, wholesaling, distribution and retailing. With so little money going back to the farmer, they have to produce more and more to make a living. So instead of producing a hundred pigs in a year they are producing 10,000. This also contributes to why only 2% of the population are farmers and why one farmer can feed 155 people. It's out of necessity. They have to produce a lot to stay in business.

With that knowledge, I knew we wouldn't be able to survive farming the conventional way. We couldn't afford the infrastructure and being at the mercy of the markets. Our farm business model is based on personal food production. We know we can't compete with the efficiency of the corporation farm models. However, we can compete at being effective. We are the marketers, retailers, and distributors.

Our farm has been the home for our black and white pigs for about a month. Six of them are rooting up grass while dodging rain and snow in their movable pig tractor. The runt of the litter is all white with a black head. Her little body and happy wagging tail remind me of my late rat terrier, Annie. So much so, that I named her Annie. I know that Annie is destined for the dinner table. She will feed many families. I have always explained to our four kids that we treat them the best that we can and in return they gift us with their meat.

Raising our kids to have that kind of relationship with the food system has always been a goal, so it breaks my heart to see the global food system broken. Milk being dumped because the DFA doesn't have any businesses to take it. Vegetables being plowed under for the same reason. Hundreds of pigs being euthanized because processors are shutting down. This problem comes from relying on the “King” corporations for our food. The food system relies so heavily on 5 main corporations that when one aspect of a corporation fails, it's devastating. This will trickle down and impact every town in America. Many people are quick to condemn the farmer for not finding other ways to market their commodity. We have even gotten questions about why farmers can't just hold the pigs until they can be processed. The world sees it as so much waste when people are starving. Not many people are thinking about the farmer. That farmer that has to dump his hard work down the drain. That farmer that has to spend more time and money destroying what he spent months nurturing. That farmer that has to kill an animal that would have fed people. These farmers are controlled by the corporations which are dictating the market right now in response to the pandemic. These corporations that are so big, that if even one of them has a hiccup, it will affect the entire food system.

In the last six weeks, our farm has seen increased sales in our meat products. Most businesses that sell farm products direct to consumers has experienced growth. I feel like consumers are finally seeing more clearly how their food gets to their table, and it's not the green pastures they thought it was. I want consumers to stop turning a blind eye to the food system. I want all consumers to be completely aware of how that food got to their table. I also want consumers to find local farmers and purchase their food from them. Farmer's markets are opening up in the next week, at least here in Iowa. I can't tell you what a difference buying local will do for the community. Keep your money local. As always, stay safe and healthy.

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