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Know Your Farmer

As a farmer, I need to be a full-time lobbyist for common sense. The USDA and folks in Washington D.C. can create a lot of extra work for us small farmers! One seemingly little law or rule change can seriously impact our lives, farms, and future.  Currently, there is one such proposed bill going through the US Senate and also a rule change being considered for beef cattle and grazing with the USDA.

I’ll admit that I barely have enough time to run the farm, let alone the country! I rely upon a few key groups to highlight the big concerns that require a little more attention. I pay attention to the Cornucopia Institute and American Farmland Trust as my primary sources of information when it comes to healthy food and farmland preservation.

While I am busy raising food, the folks in Washington D.C. are busy making life a little more interesting. Currently, there is a food safety bill going through the US Senate that will do nothing, in my opinion, to improve food safety, but it will certainly be easier for the large food processors and large farms to comply with. Why do most laws seem to benefit the large mutinational corporations?

The same goes for the USDA. Currently, the USDA is considering allowing certified organic beef cows an exemption that allows them to be raised for up to 120 days in a feedlot. This is a rule that is purely being considered to make it easier for feedlot owners to be able to label their animals as certified organic. As a farmer who is concerned for the animal’s welfare and the environment, the feedlot is the last place I would send my animals! (Granted, there are seasons when animals need to be confined, like during heavy rain storms and the wetter months, to protect the grass and grazing pastures during their vulnerable stage.) But this loophole is not designed to protect the environment, it is so the feedlot owners can “finish” the beef before harvesting them in a conventional way and still get the benefit of using the organic label.

I am firmly committed to the “Know your Farmer, Know your Doctor, Know your Mechanic” concept.  The more people with whom we have relationships, the more tangible and authentic the service and/or products will be! This country is too big to expect Washington D.C. to manage or micromanage everything. Somehow, some way, we the citizens need to have more input, and it needs to be at the local level. 

I have posted these two e-mail alerts I received from the Cornucopia Institute on our Box of Good blog: As a farmer I can respond, but to really affect change I need voters to “chime” in and support local, sustainable farming!  These laws and rule changes affect me as a farmer and my livelihood, but they also affect your health and, potentially,