Policy Change at Work: Family Farmers
Small family farms are an important part of rural America that help combat poverty by creating jobs and supporting the local economy in an ecologically sustainable way. Since owners of small family farms depend on the community in which they live, they are particularly invested in their community’s economic well-being, social health and environmental sustainability for the long term.
Lisa and Eric are the new faces of family farming. They are college-educated, passionate, intentional farmers who work 260 acres in the southeast part of the state. The Kleins raise and direct-market chickens, pigs and grass-fed cattle that are free of hormones and antibiotics.
They established Hidden Stream Farm in 1997 after they graduated from the University of Wisconsin and pursued separate careers in agriculture and ranching. Lisa’s father was ready to step away from dairy farming and offered to rent his land to them.
“I kind of knew I wanted to come home and farm, but I didn’t know quite how it would work,” Lisa says. “We struggled for several years to find the path we should take, but we’ve always felt we’re doing what’s right with what God gave us.”
The Kleins sell their meat and poultry to three grocery stores, a meat market and several restaurants. They also sell at farmers’ markets and deliver directly to residential consumers. Pork is their main operation and they are small by conventional pork-producing standards. But they’re happy.
With unpredictable weather patterns during tough economic times, family farmers face many obstacles. The Commodity Title (Title I) of the Farm Bill was established to provide a safety net for farmers like the Kleins; unfortunately, too often, those benefitting from the subsidies are large operations that don’t need the support. Agriculture subsidies such as direct payments are a significant lifeline for farmers and should aid those who truly need support and who practice environmentally sound and sustainable farming practices.
This is just one example of how some of the programs funded by the United States Farm Bill can help combat poverty when structured correctly. Help us advocate for passage of a Farm Bill that feeds and changes the lives of poor and vulnerable people here at home and around the world, promotes conservation that protects God’s creation, lifts up small family farms and helps rural America thrive. Learn more about the Farm Bill.