Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #9, 4/12/17

What’s been going on!

First, we will be back at the Wednesday market today, 3:00-6:00!  Beautiful day and enough produce to make a show.  Come see us!

An unusual morning yesterday.  Strange times require new things.  I was asked to go to the General Assembly and participate in a press conference for the roll out of a proposed bill, by Republican legislators, for the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina.  Let that sink in.

When the NGO folks who contacted me said they were going to try to expand Medicaid to NC and asked if I could speak to the needs of farmers for health insurance I thought someone was pulling my leg and then realized they were serious and I said sure.  All of the bluster and horse trading around health care legislation in DC and here is disheartening, mostly misguided and very real and scary for us.

Farmers, like many small businesses, have to buy their own health insurance.  We don’t have the luxury of working for the school system, or a big drug company or the state government.  Farming is the sixth most dangerous occupation.  The number one reason that farms go out of business is not a crop failure or a hurricane or export market pressures, it is because someone gets sick or hurt and they can’t pay the medical bills and have to sell the farm or declare bankruptcy because they could not afford insurance.

It is one of the main reasons that something like 90% of all farms have someone with an off farm job, partly because many farmers don’t really make enough money to be profitable and so they can get benefits through their off farm employment.  We are some of the rare birds that don’t have off farm jobs, we make our entire living from these four acres!  We have always managed to afford health insurance, knowing we needed to for the possibility of something happening, that is why it is called insurance.

The Affordable Care Act has been a dream for us, good coverage at affordable prices.  Before the ACA, our insurance costs were getting beyond our reach up to 10% of our gross farm income.  If we had to buy in the open market today it would be nearly 25% and we would not have insurance until we can get to Medicare, 4 long years from now.

I told them that if they really cared about growth, jobs and particularly the rural economy as they all profess then this was as much a jobs bill as it was access to health care for the working poor.  17% of all jobs in NC are in agriculture and small business creates the majority of new jobs.  While this legislation fills but a small gap it is at least a glimmer of hope in a sometimes very dark discussion.

Picture of the Week

P1030376

Lots of beautiful lettuce on the way

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

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