Saturday, March 1, 2008

Interesting Op-Ed in the NY Times

Today's New York Times ran an op-ed piece by Jack Hedin, a small, midwestern farmer, entitled My Forbidden Fruits and Vegetables. It talks about how the farm bill that is currently being negotiated on Capitol Hill will have a horribly detrimental effect on small, local vegetable farmers. These are the folks who run the CSAs, bring their produce to the Farmer's Market and often sell their organice fruits and veggies to the local grocery stores.

I urge you to give it a read and then, drop a note to your congressman and senators to let them know how you feel about the farm bill.

Get the lead out. That is all.

If, like me, you're lazy and wish someone would write a letter for you to just copy and paste, feel free to take the words right out of my mouth, er... post:

I was deeply disturbed by the op-ed piece in today's New York Times entitled "My Forbidden Fruits (and Vegetables)". My concern is centered around the farm bill, which is currently under negotiation.

According to the article:

"The commodity farm program effectively forbids farmers who usually grow corn or the other four federally subsidized commodity crops (soybeans, rice, wheat and cotton) from trying fruit and vegetables. Because my watermelons and tomatoes had been planted on “corn base” acres, the Farm Service said, my landlords were out of compliance with the commodity program.
I’ve discovered that typically, a farmer who grows the forbidden fruits and vegetables on corn acreage not only has to give up his subsidy for the year on that acreage, he is also penalized the market value of the illicit crop, and runs the risk that those acres will be permanently ineligible for any subsidies in the future. (The penalties apply only to fruits and vegetables — if the farmer decides to grow another commodity crop, or even nothing at all, there’s no problem.)

In my case, that meant I paid my landlords $8,771 — for one season alone! And this was in a year when the high price of grain meant that only one of the government’s three crop-support programs was in effect; the total bill might be much worse in the future.

In addition, the bureaucratic entanglements that these two farmers faced at the Farm Service office were substantial. The federal farm program is making it next to impossible for farmers to rent land to me to grow fresh organic vegetables."

Personally, as a citizen, voter, blogger and general all-around loud-mouth, I would like to see you do your part to ensure that I have access to locally grown organic vegetables produced on small, family-owned farms. I would appreciate a response indicating your stance on this matter.


[Your Name Here]


organicneedle said...

I could understand not getting the subsidy if the subsidy is for a specific crop and that crop isn't being grown. But why the penalties? Why disallow farmers the right to go back to a subsidized crop if their other veggies don't work out? I would love to hear the other side of this. If it is to guarantee the supply of the 4 core crops, why squeeze the little guys on that. Or is it just dirty politics as usual? In an ideal world there would be enough support and profit for local small farmers that they wouldn't be reliant on the subsidies at all and they could tell the government just where to plant their rules.

Green Bean said...

Thank you for posting this! I urge everyone who reads Burbanmom's blog to steal her letter and send it to your own representatives. Loud mouths are generally heard!

MamaBird said...

Thanks! Now if you could get this DC Mama representation in Congress...

Crunchy Chicken said...

How funny. I was going to post something similar on my blog but haven't gotten around to writing the letter (actually my SIL was going to write it since she's a lawyer and all).

Maybe I'll do a post anyway - the more people read about this then maybe they'll do something.