A whole workforce that comes from agriculture and is dedicated to our nutrition is as vulnerable as it is essential. Workers in food preparation and agricultural professions bring home less than alive annual salary of $26,670 and $31,340, respectively. And 75% of agricultural labor is denied the basic protections that citizenship provides and that their contributions deserve.

The public experience of agriculture does not correspond to the economic reports of the agricultural industry. It’s not just that we have an agricultural system that harms the public interest by depleting land and people. The public experience is so different from indicators of economic success in the agriculture industry than last year net farm income at its highest level in seven years. Just as we have a stock market that is not our economywe have an agricultural economy increasingly detached from agricultural realities and the experience of agricultural communities.

This detachment has everything to do with public policy. It’s a long story with a new chapter every year. In 2020, a series of new, long-standing government relief programs were responsible for nearly 40% of farm income peak. This windfall did not come from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, nor the Economic Disaster Loan Access (EIDL), nor even the stimulus checks made available to US residents and declined. to members of our undocumented community. This windfall was a combination of direct payment programs to farmers dating back to the Great Depression, supplemented by a new relief program, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

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CFAP has released billions of dollars new government funding to help farmers “absorb” their pandemic-related losses. The National Coalition of Young Farmers, of which I am co-executive director, campaigned to make this funding available to local food producers who have also faced downturns due to restaurant closures and lost markets. Instead, funding approved by Congress has been made widely available to regular recipients of direct farm payments: large farms and commodity producers.