Family Farming and the Marketplace

5 03 2014
The 2014 International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) aims to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farming by focusing world attention on its significant role in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas. The goal of the 2014 IYFF is to reposition family farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies in the national agendas by identifying gaps and opportunities to promote a shift towards a more equal and balanced development.  The 2014 IYFF will promote broad discussion and cooperation at the national, regional and global levels to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders and help identify efficient ways to support family farmers.

The 2014 International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) aims to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farming by focusing world attention on its significant role in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.
The goal of the 2014 IYFF is to reposition family farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies in the national agendas by identifying gaps and opportunities to promote a shift towards a more equal and balanced development. The 2014 IYFF will promote broad discussion and cooperation at the national, regional and global levels to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders and help identify efficient ways to support family farmers.

By Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President

Farmers Union was founded on the idea that farmers can work together to find power in numbers. That’s why 10 farmers and rural residents in Texas formed the Farmers Union in 1902. Whether farmers need to organize to receive better shipping rates for cotton, as those founding 10 did, or to start a cooperative that can process and market their crops and livestock, or to have a louder voice on legislative issues to regulate markets, farmers have been coming together through the NFU to have a larger say in the marketplace for more than 110 years.

As NFU continues to recognize the International Year of Family Farming, the month of March brings us to consider a very important part of our experience as farmers – the marketplace. Throughout the month we’ll feature guest writers on our blog who will discuss different aspects of the marketplace, ranging from competition, regulation, strategies and history. It will be an interesting conversation, and I urge you to offer your thoughts in the comments section of our blog.

Markets need to be competitive in order to be functional. Farmers, as consumers of many inputs and the producers of commodities, usually find themselves in the position of “price-takers” rather than “price-makers.” All too often, those prices are volatile and disconnected from readily apparent supply and demand forces.

Much of NFU’s legislative efforts are directed toward making sure that laws and rules are enacted that allow for a fair and free market, so that those with power cannot run roughshod over everyone else. This month will feature some viewpoints from leaders on those issues.

We’ll also hear from bloggers who are finding new and innovative ways for farmers to assert themselves in the marketplace. Food hubs, strategic partnerships and new customer bases are offering some promising avenues for farmers to excel in today’s market.

As our tagline says, NFU is “united to grow family agriculture,” and the preamble of our grassroots-adopted 2013 NFU Policy includes this passage:

“The loss of family farms and other independently owned businesses is not inevitable. We believe the accelerated march toward a vertically integrated production system must be reversed. This requires action to enforce and enhance antitrust and competition laws, strengthen the regulatory system and revitalize independently owned businesses and competitive markets.”

Let’s spread the word about the importance of the marketplace for family farmers during the month of March.

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