A recent AP dispatch from Afghanistan raises an interesting question: are small farmers there getting better support from the US government than farmers back home?
The piece discusses the work of the Missouri National Guard’s Agri-Business Development Team with Afghan farmers, which includes installing solar powered wells and more:
Other long-range projects include designing micro-slaughter facilities for each district, rather than one large facility; building veterinary clinics that will be turned over to provincial veterinarians; and teaching food preservation techniques. And they are testing root cellars to prolong storage of produce for the market.
Small-scale local slaughterhouses, food preservation, and veterinary clinics for small farmers? These are exactly the sorts of items American small-farm advocates have been advocating for years, with little success in the face of government support for large agribusiness instead. These types of projects are rightly intended to help restore a viable small-farm economy in Afghanistan, and I deeply respect the efforts and risks the Guard members are taking in doing this work.
My question relates to the overarching policy: why are we apparently NOT interested in supporting the same local/regional small farm economies in the US? Why is it so hard to see the value of such things back home? Why are our governments and health departments so terrified of small-scale, local meat processing when apparently it’s good enough for Afghans? Are they somehow genetically superior to Americans, such that locally-slaughtered meat doesn’t kill them? Are they smarter than Americans, such that they know how to choose safe meat sources? Are they just too backward to make use of 21-st century modern industrial meat processing? What’s the difference?