In and around Portland area just like in many cities both large and small, farmers markets and locally-focused or community-based agriculture continues to rise in popularity. In cities like Portland, this has a great deal to do with the increasing push for sustainability, and a greater demand for accountability in terms of what we eat, and where/how it’s grown — concerns voiced by the public and dealt with by grocers, restaurant owners and household shoppers alike.
But according to a recent Willamette Week article, “taxpayers may soon be asked to step up and help out this local food base.” While across the nation, subsidies for farm operations and farmers is nothing new, sustaining or in the worst case scenarios, artificially propping up large growers of staples like corn and soybeans, the tradition dictates that the largest government subsidies go to the largest farms. So where does this leave community-based agriculture?
According to the article, it leaves small farmers at the table, demanding their fair share of subsidies now, too. Data furnished by the Oregon Farmers’ Markets Association shows that the approximate number of farmers markets across Oregon has increased from merely a dozen to over a hundred and fifty since 1987, and those declaring themselves as advocates of the local farming cause are now saying that this positive trend is not financially sustainable without state help.
And there seems to be little support at the state level, notably within the Department of Agriculture, where representatives claim that the federal programs are already available, whether local and smaller farms end up with the money or not.
Read the rest of the Willamette Week article now: Green for Acres.
[Photo Via: Multco.us]