WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. — At National Farmers Convention 2014 in the Wisconsin Dells Tuesday, food policy and the farm bill were standout topics.
National Farmers Organization President Paul Olson spoke to member producers about the lack of a farm bill, as well as conditions in the food production industry.
He underscored that the foreign ownership of dairy processors, as well as consolidation of America’s food industry continues unabated. And, he cautioned that trade agreements need to be critically reviewed for their negative effects on producers.
Regarding the lack of new farm legislation for the past two years, Olson said farmers deserve the respect of Washington D.C. representatives by passage of a new farm bill. “I’m disappointed that farmers are being treated with such recklessness,” said Olson. “Farmers livelihoods are at stake.”
Olson said consumers are more educated about food and are becoming producers’ allies. He noted that consumers should be very concerned about where their food is coming from, and what’s in it.
Echoing Olson on consumer food issues, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter, said a surprising percentage of food in America is now produced overseas. China is now the third largest producer of processed vegetables, she said. “We need to do something about food policy in America,” said Hauter.
Author of the book Foodopoly, Hauter reviewed the history of food production in America, and changes in government farm policy through the post World War II years.
“Food is one of the most concentrated industries in America,” Hauter said. She said in the beginning of the 1980s, corporations begin to have undue influence over government policies. And, therefore food policy.
“We all need to take back our democracy and help ensure a vigorous economy,” Hauter said.
National Farmers annual convention and business meeting in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. runs through Wednesday. National Farmers is a group marketing and price negotiation organization for the nation’s farmers and ranchers.