We have one thing in common--we all eat everyday. Today I’m writing to ask you to consider a serious threat to all of us who eat -- the decline of the family farm.
The U.S. has lost 4.3 per cent of its farms since 2007. This year, farming’s profitability is forecast to decline for the third year in a row. Net farm income is projected to go down, as are farm asset values. Nationally, the projected median farm income for 2016 is negative $1,473, while farm debt is expected to rise. Most farmers rely on off-farm income to pay their bills. Many have to leave their farms behind.
Why should you care? Because thriving family farms are the foundation of our local food system which combats the global industrial food system and its impacts: poor health, environmental degradation and climate change.
What are we doing to help family farms in New Jersey? With your help, we are tackling major barriers to small- and mid-scale sustainable agriculture in the state:.
We are collaborating with government, land trusts, nonprofits and farmers to find ways to improve land access. New Jersey has the second-most expensive farmland in the country and the highest percentage of preserved farmland in the nation. We need your support to help us get more farmers farming in New Jersey.
Distribution: Farmers’ markets are wonderful but direct-to-consumer is only part of the equation. We need more ways for local farms to get their food into stores, restaurants, schools and corporate cafeterias and
we need your support to help us remove barriers to buying local.
Policy: Billions of federal Farm Bill dollars subsidize corn and soy, making them so cheap they can be processed into junk foods and drinks that are calorie-rich, nutrient-deficient and add to public health crises, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Vegetables and fruit, which demonstrably contribute to good health, are considered “specialty crops,” and get a minute fraction of government financial support that commodity crops get.
We need your support to help us work to change this.
New Jersey lags way behind many other states in local sustainable agriculture and it is about time we begin to catch up to the wonderful things happening in places like the Hudson Valley and Vermont. Please support our work in strengthening New Jersey’s food system so we have healthy food, farms and environment for generations to come.
Executive Director, Foodshed Alliance
P.S. By supporting our small staff, your contribution directly puts “boots on the ground,” allowing us to make change here in New Jersey. Please respond by December 31 and don’t miss this opportunity to have your tax-deductible year-end gift help family farms and our local food system.