The Agriculture Fairness Alliance (AFA) is a coalition of various groups and individuals ranging from free-market advocates to vegans, from environmentalists to food equity proponents. The group is lobbying for justice and fairness in farm policy in DC three months ahead of schedule due to a surge in membership.
The executive team signed a contract with DC-based Lobbyists4Good (L4G) in October, and meetings with members of Congress began last week. They are proposing the At-risk Farmers Act which will grant funds to non-profits to assist animal farmers who want to transition to sustainable endeavors such as supplying the plant-based foods market. This voluntary program is intended to help farmers get themselves unstuck from producing into glutted markets, and transition into lucrative businesses that don’t require bailouts and subsidies year after year.
AFA was founded by Connie Spence, Laura Montonye Reese, and Renee King-Sonnen. According to Reese, “The age of animal exploitation will come to an end. There are other, and often better ways of producing our proteins, making our fabrics, and testing our medicines. The animal agriculture industry destroys our planet, subjugates animals, and exploits marginalized humans. There’s no justification for propping it up any longer.”
- Subsidies & bailouts shield animal agribusinesses from the normal laws of supply and demand that other industries are expected to abide by.
- Subsidies & bailouts mute signals sent to the industry by consumers who think they’re ‘voting with their dollars’ in the free market.
- Subsidies & bailouts to animal agribusinesses are a massive waste of taxpayer money and do not make good fiscal sense.
While large operations like Elmhurst Dairy in NY and Giacomazzi Dairy in CA have the means to shift to new markets themselves, small to mid-sized farming operations are often saddled with debt, suffer from thin profit margins, and therefore remain stuck serving sunsetting industries. When enacted into law, the At-risk Farmers program will be there to help when these farmers inevitably come to realize that it’s time to join the plant-based food system.
According to Spence, “When we are taught our whole lives that the American Dream means anyone can start a business and be successful so long as they offer a superior product, I never dreamed we’d be babysitting the livestock and dairy industries into imposing their own success. It’s time to let the American people decide what products are superior, to let our demand be felt, and to stop corporate farming interests from falsely representing American small farmers. This legislation addresses helping small farmers.”