The trillion-dollar farm bill -- also known as the “food” bill -- heading to President Barack Obama’s desk covers large-scale farming operations, but leaves small farmers out in the cold.
Curtis Stiefer, who farms 45 acres near Devine, said that’s just fine with him.
“(I) don’t want the government. I do what I want,” Stiefer said.
He had a large sampling of his crops at a farmers' market in the parking lot of the Leon Valley Public Library.
“There’s no guarantee. There’s no insurance. If anything happens, we bite the bullet on it,” Stiefer said.
He said if his crops were wiped out, it would be difficult to start over, but the hit would be huge for large-scale growers.
“You got a million dollars invested in your crop out there. You can’t do it. You’ve got to have something backing you,” Stiefer said.
The farm bill compromise will end guaranteed payments or subsidies to farmers, regardless of the prices or quality of their crops.
Instead, they will be offered lower prices for crop insurance, and pay out benefits at lower levels.
“(I'd) just as soon not have it, if you want to know the truth,” Stiefer said.
“It’s not helping me at all,” said Fernando Vasquez, whose been farming three years on 10 acres next to Stiefer’s land.
“We’re so small, we do one row of this, one row of that,” Vasquez said.
However, Vasquez said he would welcome insurance for his “specialty items.”
Otherwise, he said, “We’ve got to take the good with the bad.”
However, small farmers are concerned about the $90 monthly reduction in food stamps.
“Less food is going to be bought and less income for us,” Stiefer said.
Small growers aren’t the only ones relying on farmer’s markets.
“This is where we do most our sales and where they do most of their sales,” said Dan Gillen, a vendor who had an array of jams, jellies and preserves using locally grown crops.
Gillen said his proprietor Dan Bales in Leon Valley supports local farmers “because we’re looking for the freshest product we can get.”