The answer — Big Ag. Just ask the family farmers who dared to protest an industrial hog farm in Missouri.
By Ian T. Shearn
The American Farm Bureau, with its 6 million “member families” and carefully cultivated grassroots image, talks a good game. In the pitched battle over US farm policy—with agribusiness giants on one side, and small family farmers, organic and local food advocates and environmentalists on the other—the Farm Bureau positions itself as the voice of the farmer.
“If you know agriculture in this country, it is dominated by family farms, and those are the people who come to our meetings, those are the people who set our policies,” claims Mark Maslyn, executive director of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s public policy department, a team of twenty-two registered federal lobbyists that spend more than $2 million annually on a variety of agriculture issues.
But Rolf Christen, a cattle farmer in Missouri who was at one time an enthusiastic member of his local farm bureau’s board, tells a different story.