Nonprofit groups Agriculture Fairness Alliance (AFA) and Lobbyists4Good recently met with members of Congress to propose the At-Risk Farmers Act. The pilot program would grant funds to nonprofits to assist animal farmers who want to transition to sustainable endeavors such as supplying the plant-based foods market. The voluntary program is intended to help agriculturalists turn their farms into lucrative businesses that do not require exploiting animals or relying on bailouts and subsidies. AFA—which was founded by Connie Spence and Laura Montonye Reese (both of whom founded Vegan Justice League) and Renee King-Sonnen (who founded the Rancher Advocacy Program)—takes the position that subsidies, bailouts, and tax-payer-funded marketing programs that boost animal agribusinesses are unfair. While larger animal-farming operations have the means to shift to new markets on their own, many small- to mid-sized farms are often saddled with debt, suffer from thin profit margins, and therefore remain stuck serving the industry. “When we are taught our whole lives that the American dream means anyone can start a business and be successful so long as they offer a superior product, I never dreamed we’d be babysitting the livestock and dairy industries into imposing their own success,” Spence said. “It’s time to let the American people decide [which] products are superior, to let our demand be felt, and to stop corporate farming interests from falsely representing American small farmers. This legislation addresses helping small farmers.” Last month, California’s oldest dairy farm, Giacomazzi Dairy decided to exit the dairy business after more than 125 years to focus on growing almonds due to the dwindling demand for dairy and because its owner said plant-based products “provide a higher return than milking cows.”
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