Family farmers represent the best of America. They are thoughtful, resilient people who know what it takes to make something delicious and valuable from dirt, seeds, sunlight and water. They know the meaning of hard work, and taking risks to make things better for themselves and their families.
Family farmers have been the backbone of our economy since the founding of this country. That's changing, of course, as many farms have been squeezed out of business by the consolidated power of corporate agribusiness and a shift to "factory farm" production. But despite the doom and gloom about the loss of the family farm, the family farmer is still here, sticking it out through tough times. In fact, family farms still represent almost 96 %of the 2,204,792 farms in the United States
Family farmers face many tough challenges. One bad year can mean three years, or more, of hardship, as farmers struggle to recover from the increasingly common floods and droughts around the country. Unpredictable harvests, coupled with the increasing costs of inputs, such as genetically modified seeds and patented pesticides, have transformed family farming to an existence that is precarious and, at times, grim.
On top of these hardships, family dairy farmers must purchase feed when they do not have enough land for their cows to graze on, during the winter when grass reserves may need to be supplemented with feed, and when there are floods or droughts. Most animal feed is genetically modified in the US. Organic or Non-GMO verified feed is hard to find and comes at an extra cost. So the practical reality is that farmers who want to avoid GMOs in purchased feed have to switch to organic. This is very expensive. A recent look put prices of organic feed at an average of $795 per ton, more than double what GMO feed costs, at an average of $315 per ton. Not a small difference at all for farmers and one of the reasons why certified organic dairy products cost more.
The problem of cost goes up the supply chain, where it is also costly and/or impossible for feed sellers to segregate GM feed vs. non-GM feed, same goes for transporters. The cost of transitioning to organic is expensive for crop farmers as well, as it can take up to seven years to rid the land of pesticides and meet the organic farming standards. Most farmers do not have enough of a cash reserve to fund such a transition.
Dairy farmers and crop farmers are stuck in their business relationships – due to the expense of switching or the lack of options – and therefore they are by default also stuck in a relationship with Monsanto. This agrochemical corporation grosses nearly $12 billion per year, while family dairy farmers continue to struggle. Many often earn less on their milk than the total economic cost of production and are increasingly living off their savings or subsidizing our "cheap food" by working another job off the farm.
The staff of Green America and the GMO Inside campaign deeply respect and support family farmers. We shop at farmers markets so farmers get the highest pay for their goods and we buy locally produced foods grown under fair and humane conditions.
Monsanto, on the other hand, shows little respect for the hard work and resilience of farmers. They lock farmers into restrictive agreements and treat farmers whose fields are contaminated with their patented GMO pollen like criminals.
We want family farmers to know our campaign calling on Chobani to switch to non-GMO milk is not against them. We want to work with dairy farmers and Chobani alike to jumpstart the transition away from GMO farming for animal feed and our own. Away from the crops and chemicals that have for too long served as Monsanto’s bread and butter, essentially unknown by the public.
We believe that companies like Chobani, who rely on milk from family dairy farmers for their products, owe it to the farmers to provide financial support for the transition to non-GMO feed. Everyone wants what is healthiest for the animals, the environment, and the food we eat.
Companies like Chobani have a social responsibility to their customers, the farmers who supply their milk, the communities they operate in, and the environment itself.
You can join us in standing with farmers and asking Chobani to help their farmers go non-GMO by signing our petition!