The concerns of farmers and their related industries are no joke. Over the last few years farmers have been up against drought, and record flooding. As a result some have lost 45% of their income, according to the USDA. Hit hardest during are grain farmers, who have seen a loss in profitability of $70 per acre. They've also lost international markets - some likely for years. The role of government in agriculture is to make it easier and more profitable for farmers to tend to America's heartland.
Mergers in agriculture have led to monopolization and work against new farming families. It is time for the use of antitrust laws to break up the corporate monoliths that raise the prices of operation. Their costs strain family farms. Farms that are lucky if their profit margin is 10% in a given year, as reported by the United States Department of Agriculture. According to the Center for American Progress, four of the largest biotech companies control 85% of the corn seed market. Their prices have increased more than 250% over the last twenty years. This makes it difficult for farmers in our community to thrive, let alone survive.
Pitched as an alternative to soybeans, an export seeing huge losses, hemp is a sustainable domestic crop that can help. It is an option for farmers looking to maximize profits without expanding their acres. Legal since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp imports to the US total over $67 million. This means Minnesota farmers could be providing this product. Bloomberg reports that the market for CBD-related products, created from hemp, could total $20 billion by 2022. As an added benefit, growing hemp requires less water and less pesticides. It generates great yields on only a small number of acres. This is a prime situation for innovative Minnesota farmers. The opportunity to grow a sustainable, low-cost crop with big market potential.