Traverse City Record-Eagle

Our Views

December 12, 2013

Editorial: Farmers find old ways to bring food to market

Unlike a lot of other people who earn their living off the land, dairy farmer Bob Plummer doesn’t trouble himself with the status of the Farm Bill in Washington.

Plummer is among several northern Michigan farmers who essentially dropped out of the traditional agricultural system of subsidies, crop insurance and big corporations paying farmers pennies on the dollar for product.

About three years ago Plummer chose to milk his 22 cows at his North Long Lake Road farm and cut out milk processing corporations by building a processing and bottling facility there. He now sells his milk locally and is thriving.

Benzie County farmers Paul and Sharron May sell their goods locally in what Sharron May refers to as the “parallel farming economy.” They sell lamb, beef, eggs and other fresh products at a single local store and sell directly to customers.

If a new Farm Bill or an extension isn’t passed by January, dairy prices could skyrocket and milk could leap to $8 a gallon. But people like Bob Plummer — and those who rely on his products — won’t have to worry about that.

Every day, it seems, someone in Northern Michigan is finding news ways to create food and create new markets where buyers and sellers can cooperate to everyone’s benefit. In some ways it’s a throwback to the way the region grew, but with new twists and new players.

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