Now that the government is running again (Yay!) federal institutions are again working on agriculture bills and rules. Big business and organizations have lobbyists who are doing their best to influence these groups to make it easier for big ag to receive big subsidies, allow the use of bee-killing chemicals, and continue socially dangerous animal-rearing practices.
Those of us who believe in a slower, more local, organic way of growing don’t have the benefit of a huge lobbying force. Instead, we must overwhelm politicians with our personal stories and visions for a healthier food production system.
Two Important Decisions Need Your Comments
First, Congress is drafting a new Farm Bill. For the betterment of the farming profession, the environment, and the health of all Americans, I envision a Farm Bill that reduces agricultural subsidies for monoculture mega-farms, increases opportunities for small, diverse farms, and continues the National Organic Cost-Share Program which assists organic growers with certification fees. I communicated these priorities to my senators and representatives. Please do the same by finding your Congress people and writing or calling them – it’s quick and easy. The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) provides direction for contacting your elected officials and more information about the Farm Bill.
Next, the Food and Drug Administration is collecting comments on a new Food Safety Modernization Act. The entire act is long and complicated, overly so in my opinion. The Produce Safety and Preventative Controls rules, in particular, need adjustment to make them equitable for small family farms. I focused my comments around how the proposed rule burdens small farmers in the amount and specificity of water quality testing (daily at exceedingly low PPM in some cases), makes the use of compost nearly impossible through the rule that it can only be applied outside of nine months before planting, and applies an unnecessary high-risk designation to processed food like pickles, breads, and syrups.
The deadline for submitting comments regarding the Food Safety Modernization Act is tomorrow, November 15. OEFFA again has detailed information available for those who want to reply in detail. If you don’t have the time to reply on a line-by-line basis, your comments advocating for small, diverse farms are still valuable. Submit your comments directly to the FDA.
I would much rather be growing and cooking local food than advocating politically, but sometimes we need to speak out. I encourage you to take a few moments to study these proposed regulations and bring your voice to the table. Small, sustainable growers like myself thank you.