(I cross-posted this on my food blog.)
Legislation alert for anyone who cares about locally, sustainably grown foods:
Two upcoming pieces of legislation threaten to put small-scale farmers and growers out of business and make consumers more dependent on Big Agribusiness for our food. (And we all know what a great success that's been...)
First of all: There is a move afoot to mandate what's called the NAIS, or National Animal Identification System, in order to better track the sale of livestock and the source for outbreaks of foodborne disease. NAIS would require all farmers to implant an ID chip in each animal -- this to the tune, I've been told, of over $100 per head. This would effectively put a lot of small and hobby farmers -- the kind of folks like my friend Farmer Ken who sells me beef and pork -- out of business. And it also fails to address the real root of danger in our food supply, to wit huge centralized factory farms and agribusiness processing plants.
Another scary piece of legislation out there is HR 875, the so-called Food Safety Modernization Act. This would require all farmers' markets and small-scale produce growers -- again, people like the local folks with roadside stands where we buy a lot of our fruits and veggies over the year -- to register with the government and be subject to countless fussbudgety regulations. Isn't it odd that the spouse of the Connecticut legislator who introduced this bill in the House is an executive with...Monsanto; and that it's supported by other Big Ag businesses.
There are very few issues that get folks on opposite sides of the political divide working together, but I think both crunchy-granola folks and libertarians who detest big government can find common ground in opposing this legislation.
Please, all of you who read either of my blogs: Contact your legislators and let them know that you are opposed to both these attempts to regulate small farmers/growers out of existence. (The fact that you're online now means that it just takes a few clicks to get to your legislators' webpages and zap them an e-mail expressing your concerns.) And let your friends know about these shenanigans going on in Congress. If you belong to a food coop, let your fellow coopers know. If you do business with local farm and garden stores, let the people there know. If you're on Facebook, there are Facebook groups opposed to both legislative proposals -- search them out, join and invite your Facebook friends to join. We need to support our farming and market gardening friends in the face of this attack -- for their sake but also for ours and for all consumers who genuinely care about food quality and food sustainability.