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Henry A. Wallace Farm Policy Principles: Relevancy for Our Times


Preamble

 

In recognition of the inherent economic volatility of modern production agriculture, with chronic excess production, inelastic demand, and market depression, and in recognition of the fragility and finiteness of our natural resource base, Henry A. Wallace (HAW) sought to develop policies and USDA systems to establish commodity price floors for people on the land and ecological stability for the rural physical environment.  His policies and appropriate programs would assure sustenance and prosperity for rural culture generally, and food security for all.

 

1. Commodity Prices  A quasi-public system to manage commodity market supplies, in the aggregate, to provide support for major commodity prices at levels that ensure diligent farmers a return that covers costs of production, including farmer labor and management.  A system that will not require politically motivated income subsidization, nor taxpayer-funded administration.  It will include a farmer-owned, ever-normal grain reserve that guarantees national food security coupled with storage release levels that are by law higher than established price floors.  It entails farmer compliance with reasonable conservation set-asides, reserves, crop rotations that maintain productivity over the longer term, and integrated cropland soil conservation practices.  Complementary USDA programs shall disincentive farm consolidation and monoculture.  They shall incentive locally owned, family-scale farms, with local-bioregional handling and marketing of food to consumers and transparency of product origin.  

 

2.  Soil and Water Conservation  Public-private cost-sharing of on-farm measures to prevent soil erosion, maintain high water quality of streams, rivers and oceans, and provide wildlife habitat.  

 

3. Global Trade  Trade Rules to foster international marketing for healthy diets for all peoples world wide, while respecting rights of all nations to establish policies for supply management and food security, land resource conservation, and halting of commodity “dumping” that undermines the economic security of farmers in all lands with resulting displacement and rural population out-migration.  Rules shall foster trade while providing also food sovereignty for national economies, world market sharing, international food reserves and ample nutritious food at all times for hunger programs.  

 

4. Biofuels  A transition from corn-based fuel production that relies on high inputs with attendant environmental damage to production from plant stock grown in an ecologically sustainable manner.  Structure biofuel processing to stabilize as primarily a rural-owned, decentralized industry that distributes dividends and equity growth to the rural economy.

 

5. Competitive Agricultural Markets  Government anti-trust activity for monitoring agricultural input / output sectors and enforcing competition within shall be greatly strengthened.  Goals include major reductions in vertical and horizontal integration of components of the food chain and competitive efficiencies at all levels with transparency of market transactions.

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