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How Government Regulations Hurt Small Farms

Small Farms Need Your Support to Multiply

My Interview on Nurturing Naturally Blog

by Kimberly Hartke, Publicist, Weston A. Price Foundation

Recently, I was interviewed by a couple of bloggers about the challenges small family farms face with government regulation. It is very timely that I share it today, because just yesterday, a farmer having trouble with regulators just told me that she is having to re-tool her farm to sell totally different products. It will take her many months to get her new plan in place. How many farmers would have the energy and wherewithal to reinvent their entire farm when they run into roadblocks placed before them?

Here is the link:

Kimberly Hartke on Small Farms and Government Regulations.

Here is a video interview I did last year, in which an herbalist describes the regulatory nightmare she has to deal with in order to grow and sell her herbs.

Regulatory Confusion Hinders Cottage Industry

New York Times Columnist, Mark Bittman wrote recently in A Food Manifesto for the Future, that our government needs to stop subsidizing processed foods, and start subsidizing local production. I contend that if we would just protect and unhinder these small farmers, they wouldn’t need a government handout, thank you very much. With government money comes a lot of strings. The rugged individualist farmer has no interest in becoming entangled in all of those controls.

But I do agree with much of what Bittman says, and particularly that these subsidies to support unhealthy foods and livestock feed have got to go.

Many of you know of horror stories involving your local farmer, or maybe you are a farmer who has had problems with unreasonable inspectors or confusing laws. Please share them in the comments, below.

Kimberly Hartke is publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition education foundation which encourages the purchase of local foods from traditional, mixed use family farms.


  1. I think subsidies should be available to those who NEED them. Small farmers may need some start-up funds or funds while they broaden their clientele. Having a small business is not easy, no matter what it is.

    That said, I think that if small farmers could get together and come up with lists of regulations that make sense for the different kinds of farming they do, that may help to quiet down the nay-sayers. I do think the government is abusing the privelege of power, but I have no problem with government enforcement of regulations, so long as they are smart. Our interests obviously have not gotten enough influence yet.

  2. Government regulations are particularly harmful to small farms because the regulators leave the big operation alone, while concentrating their efforts on small farmers. The big companies have so much power and influence that the regulators never bother them. The small farmers have no influence, and the regulators go after them. The regulators have to find some reason to justify their cost, so they attack the small and powerless. That is why all the major food safety outbreaks get traced back to large food processing facilities or CAFOS, while the regulators are trying to shut down small farms that have not caused any illness.

    I agree that all subsidies should be stopped, because the big operators have always manipulated the system to get almost all of the subsidy money.

  3. Can you tell what subsidies you are talking about that the farmers/food makers get?

  4. Unfortunately, opposite to how we feel, reasonable cooperation is necessary to participate in commerce with the public–even though it sometimes backfires or is unreasonable. There is always the gray market.

  5. Augie, I am talking about the subsidies provided for farmers in the federal farm bill that is passed each year.

  6. Thanks for fighting for small farms. In my perfect world there would only be small farms full of hard working Americans providing all the food we need. I am a new blogger working hard to build an audience so if you have a moment please give us a visit at http://organicallythought.com


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