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Viewing all Agriculture Rules

Agriculture is the foundation of all sustainable wealth. Even today, when agriculture plays a diminishing role, the productivity of the soil and the health of farmers are still a fundamental concern.

Agriculture may be the sector most closely associated with the idea of community, of mutual aid, and self-reliance. Throughout history, healthy and enduring democracies often emerged from nations of independent farmers.

Today the agricultural sector is experiencing a severe and long term distress. The statistics are disheartening. Fewer than 1 million Americans now list their principal occupation as farming. Seven percent of all farms receive almost three quarters of the revenue from all agricultural products sold. Farm commodity prices are at near historic lows. Farmers now get less than 10 cents on the food dollar spent at the retail level. In virtually every segment of the food sector–beef, chickens, cereals, grains–three or four companies control 80 percent of the market.

The system’s broken, virtually all observers agree. Yet perhaps because the situation is so bad, we are witnessing a surge of organizing and ingenuity among farmers and rural advocates. More and more people are working to establish new rules that blend environmental, economic and community-building goals.

This section of the New Rules web site offers information on agricultural policies and a library of local, state, national and international rules that nurture vibrant and diversified rural communities.