By Jordan Hergenreder, NFU Intern
National Farmers Union has long believed that long-term, sustainable rural economic development depends on the share that farmers receive from the sale of food. On June 25, 2011, Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General, echoed this sentiment as he addressed global food and nutrition security issues at the Food and Agriculture Organization Conference in Rome. Emphasizing the idea that farmers need a “fair return” on their production, Annan stated, “Farmers around the world should continue to get higher commodity prices in order to increase food production in the future years.”
NFU has consistently voiced that it is in our national, and global, interest that farmers be able to receive fair returns on their goods. In fact, the concept of parity, or ensuring farmers are able to enjoy a quality of life proportional to that of individuals in other similar professions, has been the cornerstone of NFU’s policy since the organization’s 1902 inception. This issue is still at the forefront today, nearly 110 years later. Farmers and ranchers across the globe are facing shrinking profit margins, battling the risk of market volatility, spending skyrocketing amounts of money on agricultural inputs and finding it more difficult to break even. Meanwhile, Congress threatens to cut funding for the only federal programs that help farmers scrape by in times of market or weather-related disasters.
Despite ideological rhetoric that would lead one to believe U.S. farmers are getting rich from current high food prices, farmers and ranchers actually receive only 15.8 cents of every dollar that consumers spend on food. Some of the most alarming discrepancies include a farmer’s share of only 92 cents for every pound of bacon sold, normally retailing at $5.92, and only 5 cents for every six-pack of beer retailing at $6.49. To read more on the farmer’s share of the retail dollar, click here.
In order to begin to address these timely and urgent issues, NFU joined more than 50 agricultural groups and cooperative organizations from across the world to create the World Farmers Organization (WFO) in April of this year. The purpose of WFO is to bring farmers worldwide together to find solutions to global food security issues.
We need to grow the world’s food supply, but only while adequately compensating those who have worked their entire lives to feed the world. Farmers around the world need to come together to demand a fair return from the marketplace, and consumers need to demand that family farmers and ranchers enjoy at least the modest quality of life they deserve.
U.S. farmers and ranchers remain one of the most integral pieces of the well being of both our national and global populations. Without a more fair return on the food they produce, they will lose both the ability and the incentive to increase production. NFU remains committed to working with other WFO member-organizations and stakeholders like Secretary-General Annan to ensure farmers around the world have the tools they need to solve our long-term global food security challenges.