August 2013: National Family Farm Coalition

The following is an interview with Kathy Ozer, Executive Director of the National Family Farm Coalition 

The National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) is a grassroots association representing family farms that are dealing with challenging economic times.  NFFC works on empowering family farms to reduce corporate control of agriculture and “building sustainable, economically just, healthy, safe and secure food and farm system.”  The conditions of the United States food and farm policy has created hardships for farmers, which NFFC is hoping to change by: urging Congress to enact the Food from Family Farms Act, restoring competition to the farm and food sector, negotiating fair trade agreements, promoting food security and food safety, holding US government agencies accountable, and minimizing the risks of genetic engineering.

In a recent talk with NFFC’s Executive Director, Kathy Ozer, she explained some of the intricacies of the dairy industry specifically in relation to the Farm Bill.  The Farm Bill debate has mainly focused on whether to implement the House or the Senate plan for dairy subsidies. The Senate-passed bill contains the Dairy Market Stabilization Program (DMSP), which would impose limits on the milk supply that would artificially increase the price of milk and provides dairy farms with a revenue insurance subsidy program. The House Goodlatte-Scott Amendment eliminates the production limits (and therefore the price increases), but still contains a dairy farm revenue insurance program that would deliver the vast majority of the insurance subsidy payments to the largest dairy farms.

However, Ms. Ozer explained that the DMSP versus the Goodlatte-Scott Amendment debate is not the frame we should use when discussing the debate on dairy reform, that those are just “one of many proposals on the table right now.”  She highlighted that the debate should really focus on a farm program that gives more control to farmers to obtain fair prices. One way this proposal has come to fruition is through the Food from Family Farms Act.  NFFC states “The Food from Family Farms Act assures a fair price through a cost of production price support system, food and energy security reserves, and conservation programs with full planting flexibility to avoid wasteful overproduction.”  For dairy the act would have buyers of milk – for example, dairy processors –pay a fair price for milk to the dairy farmers rather than current prices, which are way under the production costs.

As with many other farm and food issue areas, the dairy issue “is a much bigger issue than just the Farm Bill, there are a lot of other bills that are contributing to the manipulation of prices.”  NFFC noted that the increased consolidation of the dairy industry has greatly impacted farmers and consumers, and that they will continue to   report the reality of the situation, that “many co-ops are working in agribusiness interests and not the interest of the farmer.”

CFJC is proud to be working with an amazing organization like the National Family Farm Coalition, and we are excited to keep collaborating with them through the Getting Our Act Together (GOAT) Process on the Farm Bill.

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CFJC promotes the basic human right to healthy food while advancing social, agricultural, environmental and economic justice. Through advocacy, organizing and education, we collaborate with community-based efforts to create a sustainable food supply. We envision a food system in which all activities, from farm to table, are equitable, healthful, regenerative and community-driven.

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