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Edna Slayback: America's family farms under siege

Edna Slayback: America's family farms under siege

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America knows that farm families are in deep trouble. The loss of exports in corn and soybeans has wrecked the agricultural market needed to sustain the planting and harvesting of these previously profitable cash crops.

These hard times have also come to family dairy farms. Wisconsin lost 503 dairy farms in 2017 and 691 dairy farms in 2018. In 2018, for the third straight year, Wisconsin leads the nation in the number of forced bankruptcies. One farmer states her losses are about $500 per day.

When farmers do well, the money they make goes into the economy − equipment, repairs, seed and farm product purchases − as well as raising strong families in our communities.

If these farms close, what will happen to the farm families which, in some cases, have owned these farms for generations? What will happen to the land?

Today nearly 30 million acres of U.S. farmland is owned by foreign investors. The number of foreign investors has doubled in the past 20 years. During the last recession, foreign investors took advantage of the plight of our farm communities by acquiring large areas of U.S. farmland with no federal restrictions to prevent this.

In Wisconsin, foreign individuals and companies can’t legally own more than 640 acres of land, but state or federal laws are rarely enforced. One example shows 8,733 acres (valued at $19 million) sold in Manitowoc County to a Canadian company in 2014. With no record listed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Joe Maxwell, executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets says, “We don’t want to scare people, but the fact is that our country is being bought up by foreign people, and we don’t even know who they are.”

Edna Slayback,

Richland Center

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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