When is it a bad idea to “Know Your Farmer”?
Three Republican senators have complained that a federal program aimed at educating consumers about where food comes from — “Know Your Farmers” — leaves out “conventional farmers who produce the vast majority of our nation’s food supply.” Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Pat Roberts of Kansas have sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack raising questions about the $65 million they say is aimed at “small, hobbyist and organic producers whose customers generally consist of affluent patrons at urban farmers markets.”
“In other words,” wrote Kansas City Start reporter David Goldstein, “take your arugula and shove it.”
Goldstein has a good article on this fight over food. Proponents of the “Know Your Farmer” education program say it encourages alternative agriculture. Sen. Roberts says alternatives are fine, “But you can’t go back to Walden Pond agriculture and expect to feed America.”