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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Corporate Farming Bad for Small Town South Dakota

It's one thing to hear me complain about Big Ag and big corporations sucking the life out of rural communities. It's a whole nother thing to hear the anti-corporate line from a local economic development corporation.

Briana Hoffman, director of Deuel Area Development, Inc., follows up an ag subcommittee discussion of renting land locally with a discussion of the harms of corporate farming:

Studies show that communities experiencing “corporate” farming have similar negative effects such as lower income levels, higher poverty, higher unemployment rates, higher income inequality creating a class of “haves” and “have nots.” This richer and poorer division has created social problems and breakdowns in communities, increased stress, deterioration in relationships between producers and their neighbors, decreased civic participation. Some local governments became influenced in favor of large-scale agribusiness interests, leaving local farmers and communities feeling powerless. Other effects include lower education, environmental threats, higher teenage births, decreased health, decreased retail trade and community services, decline in real estate values. Many of these effects were not seen in one or two years, but took a decade to reveal [Briana Hoffman, "Ag... the Importance of Renting Locally," Digging into Deuel, 2010.03.01].

local governments... influenced in favor of large-scale agribusiness interests... why do I get the feeling we'll never hear that kind of language from Madison's economic development corporation?

Director Hoffman has a couple other worthwhile posts discussing agriculture and economic development: one on how churches can help new farmers, and one on helping farmers do the math necessary to stay afloat. It's all part of DADi's new effort to promote local ag development.

Briana, when Dwaine Chapel gets tired of commuting from Brookings to fix Madison every day, can we hire you?

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