Protecting Property and the Pursuit of Happiness for America’s Farmers

Having the freedom to provide for yourself, your family, and your community is seemingly uncontroversial. Having the freedom to use and cultivate your private property is seemingly straightforward. Having the freedom to pursue a honest career without fear is seemingly worth upholding.

Sadly, for farmers like Martha Boneta, their freedom to pursue farming and provide for themselves and others using their own private property has not been protected. For years, Martha Boneta of northern Virginia fought legal and political battles to protect her small family farm from endless government regulation. Her dedication to defend her right to her own property led to landmark legislation that now protects the rights of small family farmers. Her story is a glimmer of hope in the narrative of the plight of the family farmer.

Consider these statistics from the USDA:

  • “In 2012, the number of new farmers who have been on their current operation less than ten years was down 20 percent from 2007. Nearly 172,000 were on their current operation less than five years; this group was down 23 percent from 2007.”
  • “Consistent with a thirty-year trend, farmers average age continued to increase.”
  • “Of the 2.1 million principal operators in the United States, 288,264 were women. This was a 6 percent decrease since 2007 larger than the decrease in male principal operators.

As she tells her story in the documentary, “Farming in Fear,” Martha Boneta states that increased government intrusion has led to the decreased number of small family farmers. Running a farm, like any business, is a risk. With the threat of government regulation, the risk of farming may appear too great for some.

For those like Mrs. Boneta, farming was a childhood dream that she was excited to finally achieve with the purchase of her own farm. The people today who dream of owning their own farm and providing for their communities are done a gross disservice if their government, a political entity established to protect the “inalienable rights” of the people, creates barriers to their pursuit of happiness.

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