I said it.
My family, we survive through small business. Not just my nuclear family. But my parents. And my grand parents on both sides.
Heck, my mother's grandfather lived through the Depression by baking bread and making candies and selling it and doing anything he could to get by. My tiny grandmother was told by old man Meijer that he would buy up any bread she could bring him. And so they brought him all they could. Of course, now Meijer is among the largest supermarket chains in the US.
My mother's grandfather was also farmer in south central Michigan. She has memories of visiting him in his home with no electricity, and pulling up potatoes and other foods from his garden to make dinner.
It's the small independence that makes for freedom. The ability to maintain our own means of production for food and the necessities of life.
And though our conservative pals would like us to believe that Government is making us dependent, they conveniently leave out the insidious creeping of big companies into our lives. They control the means of production. They establish monopolies and cartels that lock out smaller competitors, that lock out new ideas, and become the only show in town for low wage jobs where workers an interchangeable component, neither able to excel nor innovate within the workplace. Where a worker can be scrapped and replaced for any excuse.
What on earth am I prattling on about?
I don't know.
It's late. And it's been a pretty long walk of a lead in to talking about a new Farm Bill.
Nationally, nearly 27,000 midsized independent family farms have been driven out of business over the past five years, and the ones who have survived are being squeezed by a market that gives preferential treatment to big agribusinesses. The 2008 farm bill included some new reforms to protect small and medium-sized farmers who raise cattle, hogs, and chickens, but those reforms are being blocked by the handful of large processing companies that dominate the meat and poultry industries. Food & Watch and our allies are asking Senator Stabenow as Chair of the Agriculture Committee to stand up for Michigan’s small farm owners, consumers and the environment and support Fair Farm Rules.
It's the "Those Reforms are Being Blocked" thing that gets my goat. Somehow our leadership ("somehow", no doubt, being $$$$$$$$$$$$$$) is considering caving in to pressure from large farms to weaken the farm bill and make it HOSTILE to the independent farmers.
As if we want to dissuade more people from entering into agriculture. As if we want to make it harder for people, desperate to feed their families and make a go of it here, to get their hands dirty and create the American Dream from the very soil under our feet.
You really cannot get more hard working, honest, salt of the earth, hard core American bootstrapper than being an independent farmer for the love of all that's good.
Let's make it as easy as possible for hard working people to at least create FOOD. Contact your State Senator and tell them to stand up for small farmers. Especially if you're in the Michigan area, talk to Senator Stabenow.