Big Oak Ridge had the privilege of hosting U.S. Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson on June 28th. The purpose of this gathering was to give local producers a chance to discuss with GT the ramifications of the Farm Bill, the Food Safety and Modernization Act, and other farm and Locavore related topics.
We had a small gathering of local producers and sustainably minded folks who would like to become producers. The visit started with a tour of The Ridge with Kenton discussing our farming methods and the reasons why we practice a carbon based, sustainable form of farming.
Some of the issues we discussed with GT were:
Restrictions on the use of compost in the Food Safety and Modernization Act.
Restrictions on the use of manure as fertilizer in the Food Safety and Modernization Act.
The lack of enforcement of COOL (Country Of Origin Labeling).
Glenn was attentive and responsive to the concerns of the group; in fact, he offered that the biggest problem with the Food Safety and Modernization Act is that it takes regulation of farming away from the USDA, where it has traditionally been, and hands it to the FDA, who know nothing about farming. (We did not try to establish the point that we don’t care much for the USDA and the Farm Bill, either, although we did “talk around” that a bit)
Glenn did side step the question about enforcing COOL, offering a brief statement that he was concerned about the impact of this measure on Canada and Mexico. He did not elaborate on those concerns.
I am more concerned about the fact (which I recently learned) that after Rachel Carson’s landmark research on DDT, and the resulting legislation to ban this horrific poison in the United States, many countries continued to use Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPs), and many third world and lesser developed countries still do. I want to know where the food in the United States comes from.
Glenn also makes no secret of the fact that he is a big believer in GMO as a means to feed the world, he supports the industrial agriculture model, and he is skeptical of the ability to produce abundance using local, natural, carbon based methods. Nevertheless, we were able to communicate the fact that it is important to safeguard family farms, small producers, and consumer rights while attempting to control the sometimes virulent diseases, pollution, and other problems endemic to industrial farming methods.
We enjoyed a lunch consisting mainly of locally grown foods. Roasted chicken, butternut squash, green beans, applesauce and pretzel salad made with fresh local berries were among the treats served that day.
I appreciated Glenn’s willingness to come and meet with us. Please continue to raise your concerns to your elected representatives, continue to fight for Food Freedom, make sure you vote at the ballot, and also vote with your dollars!