Here we share John Crabtree’s letter to Iowa Senator Tom Harkin about the kind of farm bill that rural America truly deserves:

The farm bill debate in the U.S. House of Representatives has been, to say the least, disappointing. Increased and weakened farm payment limits will mean larger subsidy checks to the nation’s largest farm operations being used to drive more of their smaller neighbors out of business. The following are excerpts of a letter I wrote on behalf of my family to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) earlier this year.

Senator Harkin, no one will ever farm our farm again after we leave, not if things remain the way they are now. Of course, someone will till the soil, plant, and harvest. But no one will farm here; no one will live here.

… The current farm bill has driven up land costs to the point where young farmers have no chance. The only so-called “farmers” who are still buying land are mostly speculators or very large operators that do not even live around here.

We own some of the best land anywhere. There should be lots of farms with kids and with livestock and lots of building for the future. … I urge you to stand up to the Southerners in Congress and tell them we will no longer write nor tolerate farm bills that destroy family farms. If they want to destroy their family farms, let them have their way with cotton and rice, and may God have mercy on their souls.

But let us have a farm bill here in Iowa … and the rest of the nation that supports family farmers, especially beginning farmers, and the communities that have grown up around them. Let us have a farm bill with real payment limits. No more tricks, no more loopholes … but real farm payment limits that level the playing field and bring young families back to our communities.

That is what it would look like if rural America truly mattered, the opposite of what is happening in thousands of rural communities across the nation – more thriving family farms and ranches, more kids, more rural main street businesses, and prospering rural communities everywhere.

And in the end, that is what it will look like if rural Americans – North, South, East, and West – stand up and let Congress know that we will not accept another farm bill that destroys family farms and that we want a farm bill that invests in family farms, ranches, and rural communities.

To share your comments, contact: John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org or 402.687.2103 x 1010.