For many Americans, the idea that farmers have rules to follow might seem foreign, but they do. Farmers actually invest a large portion of their time following rules. Usually these are rules provided to them by the federal government. The rules provide food safety, food security, or protect the environment. Other times, the rules are created to try to preserve the safety of the other citizens near to them. And some of the time, the rules accomplish nothing except to generate more income for the state or nation in fees.
A recent survey of farmers in Illinois shows that farmers are paying approximately $37,000 per year in order to comply with regulations placed on them by the federal government. Some of these costs are reasonable: farmers believe that the person applying their chemicals should be trained and certified and they are willing to pay additional for such a person or pay to become certified themselves. Other costs are unjustified.
Did you know that the federal government considers corn traveling from a field in McLean County, Illinois to an elevator in McLean County, Illinois as interstate commerce? The farmer transporting that corn must register his vehicle and pay the subsequent fees. Although the commerce doesn’t even leave the county, there is a chance that the corn will be sold for export out of the state so the federal government holds the farmer responsible for that sale. Silly, right?
Every time the state or federal government considers adding an additional regulation, the cost for farmers increases. Sometimes the costs are justified. Sometimes they are just plain ridiculous.
Every time the costs increase for farmers, another farmer punching numbers on his calculator realizes that his very small margin is diminished to the point of losing the farm and he goes out of business.
The addition of regulations that often accomplish nothing for consumer safety or food security force some farmers out of business. It’s a fact.
As a non-farmer and an eater, please consider this simple rule. Additional rules for farmers to follow must have a definite positive impact on food or environment or all they accomplish is the demise of family farmers.