The end of parity pricing and supply management farm programs was a huge boon for agribusiness, particularly the meat industry. As the farm programs were dismantled, farmer grain prices fell to well under the cost of production, giving the meatpacking industry access to below-cost feed grain. Cheap feed was – and still is – a critical component of industrial confinement-based meat production.
The impacts of the New Deal parity system on the most vulnerable of southern farmers – sharecroppers and tenant farmers, many of whom were and are farmers of color – cannot be overstated.
When applying economic theory that values preservation of our natural resources, health of small farm communities, and the cooperative culture of family farms, it becomes clear that the current agricultural system not only does not work for farmers or consumers, but inevitably creates externalities and, in fact, is a market failure.
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