KRC Encourages Public Vigilance as Corporate Farm Debate Continues
NEWS RELEASE Contact Mary Fund, 785-873-3431 firstname.lastname@example.org
Whiting, Ks- “Nothing less than who will own and control the state’s natural resources and who will have a say in our local communities was at stake in last week’s pitched debate over repealing the state’s corporate farm law,” stated Mary Fund, Kansas Rural Center (KRC) Policy and Program Director. “The Legislature did the right thing to table the bills and recommend an interim study and judicial review. This action effectively slows corporate investment in Kansas agriculture and farmland, and continues the policy allowing Kansas residents a voice in what kind of operations locate in their communities.”
“The current law offers counties an option to allow or reject corporate swine and dairy operations. The proposed bills would have taken away that remaining vestige of local control over mega swine or dairy operations in rural communities,” stated Fund. “Now we can have a full, transparent discussion of the issues.”
“Supporters claimed this will help rural communities and offer young people a rural alternative,” Fund continued. “ But we argue that these changes would grease the wheels for more of the same concentration of farms and outflow of revenues away from rural communities that we have seen for years, as well as remove the hard won right for local control.”
KRC also points to several other bills now before the Legislature that remove “barriers” to animal agriculture, but do so, they claim, at potential risk to water and air quality and to a neighbor’s right (farm or non-farm) to protest new facilities.
“Let’s not kid ourselves about who would really benefit from the changes,” Fund stated. “ It will be large animal agriculture corporations who come in with contract production opportunities that offer limited benefits to a few producers, and it will be the outside investors who take their profits out of state—while externalizing the costs of any problems like air or water contamination. It will also be the outside non-farm investors who buy farmland—removing it from the market for local new or beginning farmers.”
Fund acknowledges that the high costs of farmland and of doing business present challenges to new and old farmers alike, regardless of whether or not there is a corporate farm law in place. Entering farming or maintaining an existing farm for future generations is hard regardless of farm size or type of enterprise. However, the “new markets” being promised are highly concentrated among a few corporations, who call the shots for the producers—whether there are corporate restrictions in place or not. The difference Fund says will be how capital enters the state, and who benefits from it, and who ends up owning Kansas farmland.
“What the state and agribusiness interests tried to do was open the doors to ensure that larger farms can find buyers so they can sell their operations, or get even larger with outside investors, and that corporate interests or investors can invest in contract production of swine, dairy and poultry,” Fund stated. “ We are promised jobs and opportunities, but this is the same old song, same old story.”
The Kansas Rural Center is a non-profit organization that since 1979 has promoted the long term health of the land and its people through research, education and advocacy that advances economically viable, ecologically sound, and socially just food and farming systems.