Affordable Health Care Is Key to Innovation in our Food System
image credit: The Irresistible Fleet of Bicycles
There are many factors that keep people in jobs they hate; in America, one of them is health insurance. Steph Larsen writes at the Ethicurian how the lack of health care is impeding America's agricultural revival.
We hear frequently about the need for new and younger farmers, but there are many barriers to attracting young people to farm in a way that will foster sustainable local food systems. One of them, however, looms bigger than the rest:
Access to affordable, dependable health care.
Civilian Conservation Corps at an experimental farm, 1933, National Archives
The sustainable local-food system we are trying to build relies on an abundance of small, diverse, sustainable family farmers scattered all across the United States. For this kind of farm to exist, sustainable must mean more than environmental sustainability — it must also include economic viability. Farming is a dangerous and risky business, and it becomes a whole lot less attractive when a farmer knows that he or she is one fall from the hay loft away from losing their land.
In order to attract more farmers to grow food for a sustainable food system, we need meaningful health care reform that addresses the needs of farmers, rural communities, and small business owners. The stark reality of health care costs for farmers, who often must purchase insurance as individuals and pay more for it as a result, is enough to make anyone waiver [sic] in their desire to start a farm.
Interesting point; for readers in Canada or the UK, access to health care is probably one of the last things they think about when starting a new venture. More in the Ethicurian
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