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News Brief

Nov. 15, 2023 |  By: Farah Siddiqi - Public News Service

MO family farmers: Inflation Reduction Act funds not for factory farms


By Farah Siddiqi - Public News Service

Advocates for Missouri's small family farms have taken to the U.S. Capitol today, to talk with lawmakers about what could be done in the next Farm Bill to better protect the nation's food resources and family farmers.

Nearly 200 groups have signed a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, urging him to reconsider including conservation practices supporting factory farms, which often add to local pollution problems.

Tim Gibbons, communications director for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, said the USDA's decision to allow mega-farms to qualify for "climate smart" conservation payments is controversial.

"Here in Missouri and throughout our entire country, quite literally, the corporate industrial takeover of the livestock industry is, and has been, done with use of taxpayer dollars at the expense of farmers, consumers, our environment, our economy," Gibbons contended. "And our democratic process in general."

Gibbons added there is a need to ensure taxpayer dollars fund family farmers and ensure consumers have access to meats and other farm products grown and harvested locally. The Farm Bill officially expired in September, but Congress has not taken the necessary steps to pass a new one.

Gibbons believes the Inflation Reduction Act should have specific safeguards in place to protect small farmers and to prevent factory farms from taking advantage of tax breaks.

"Factory farm corporations have been one of the main contributors to environmental damage and climate change," Gibbons asserted. "So, Missouri and U.S. taxpayers, we shouldn't be paying for them to clean up their act. They should clean themselves up."

The letter to Secretary Vilsack claimed industrial farming practices exacerbate climate change, waste taxpayer dollars and harm Indigenous and underserved communities, all of which run counter to the intent of the Inflation Reduction Act.