Opinion: After the drought, seeking long-term solutions for farmers
September 6th, 2012
02:45 PM ET
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Farmers with Issues is a platform for farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Craig Rogers is the shepherd and owner of Border Spring Farm Lamb in Patrick Springs, Virginia, where he raises and sells pastured raised "Animal Welfare Approved" lamb to acclaimed chefs across the country. He is a vocal advocate for rural small farms.

The news of the devastating drought of 2012 has overwhelmed the press with stories of hardship, despair, pain and suffering. Now federal and state governments are stepping in to "help the farmers."

Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture announced plans to buy up to $170 million of beef, pork, lamb and catfish to "help farmers in drought stricken areas." But from whom do they actually buy that meat? And does it help a farmer or family who may be your neighbor?
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Who are you calling 'rich'? A small farmer shares some hard data
July 27th, 2012
03:00 PM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Craig Rogers is the shepherd and owner of Border Spring Farm Lamb in Patrick Springs, Virginia, where he raises and sells pastured raised "Animal Welfare Approved" lamb to acclaimed chefs across the country. He is a vocal advocate for rural small farms.

Over the past couple of years I have been able to share some of my thoughts with readers of Eatocracy with articles in 5@5 and Chefs with Issues. The comments posted after those articles are often upsetting for a farmer to read.

I've read claims like “American farmers, among the wealthiest Americans...” I have also come across people who believe that “Americans are taxed 20B USD (!!) a year in farm subsidies, so I feel I have already purchased your produce.”

So I thought I would share some data - not an opinion, but hard facts from the U.S. Census Bureau and the United States Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service to paint a more accurate portrait of America's farmers.

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What every farmer wants to hear – 'Go USA'
July 16th, 2012
12:45 PM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Craig Rogers is the shepherd and owner of Border Spring Farms in Patrick Springs, Virginia, where he raises and sells “Certified Naturally Grown" and "Animal Welfare Approved" lamb and sheep to acclaimed chefs and natural food stores.

It amazing what can happen when national pride rules the day. Republicans and Democrats - who have made disagreement and paralysis into a spectator sport - came together this week to unanimously condemn outsourcing the production of USA Olympic athletes’ uniforms to factories in China. The result was a quick commitment from the manufacturer that all future USA Olympic uniforms will be made right here at home in the U.S. of A.

National pride is a wonderful thing. But it did not save the United States textile industry or furniture industries decades ago. We have seen American manufacturing jobs leave for cheaper pastures and both presidential candidates agree that saving American manufacturing is a priority.

American farmers have been facing the same issues that American textile, furniture and manufacturing industries have. Along with ranchers, shepherds and fishermen, we have watched as cheap imports infiltrate the market and in some cases overwhelm the market. Seldom do we hear this cry of national pride as it pertains to the outsourcing of American farm jobs.
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Chefs with Issues: Five sustainable lessons from a family farm
June 2nd, 2011
07:15 AM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Craig Rogers is the shepherd and owner of Border Spring Farms in Patrick Springs, Virginia, where he raises and sells “Certified Naturally Grown" and "Animal Welfare Approved" lamb and sheep to acclaimed chefs and natural food stores.

Over the years, I have heard farmers speak of their "sustainable" farms, only to wonder what they actually meant by that term.

Perhaps it is the engineer in me that desires precise definition, but I have not yet grasped the fidelity of sustainable land-based farming. I understand sustainable fishing and marine-based harvest, but on the East coast of the United States, most farmers are working on land that either wishes to return to its natural forest state, or is forced into nutrition alien to its heritage.

So although I wonder about the subtleties of terminology, I have been clear on one fundamental issue all farmers face: there is nothing sustainable about losing money.
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