In the past 10 years the number of farmers markets has more than doubled, from 2,863 in 2000 to 6,132 in 2010. The rise in the popularity of the local, organic and sustainable food movement is the result of the growing awareness of major problems in our industrial food system and the increasing number of massive food safety outbreaks that have resulted from unchecked consolidation and concentration of food production in the U.S.
Today the USDA and Big Ag are conspiring to implement a set of rules that favors giant industrial growers while placing smaller, diversified farms at risk. Known as the National Leafy Green Marketing Agreement, this set of rules is designed by industrial producers to protect their market share while harming their main competition, the growing local and organic food movement.
Drafted by the largest vegetable growers’ lobbyists, the Leafy Green agreement is an effort to whitewash their growing food safety problems and implement draconian practices that saddle farmers with one-size-fits-all rules that would drive local and organic farmers out of business with expensive regulations.
If allowed to pass, the Leafy Green agreement would rather “sterilize” fields, wipe out biodiversity and allow for more massive consolidation to take place among our best and most productive farms as it ignores the real causes of food safety outbreaks.
While existing organic standards already contain adequate rules that help prevent food-borne illnesses, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently agreed with Big Ag lobbyists to propose national food safety rules for vegetable growers despite the fact that the AMS has no food safety oversight or staff.
This move is yet another sign that the Obama administration and Secretary Vilsack are willing to pay lip service to improving our food system, while secretly working with giant agribusiness interests behind closed doors to undermine the very family farmers that are responsible for growing the food that more and more Americans are demanding.
It’s time that President Obama and Secretary Vilsack got serious about protecting the most vibrant and fastest growing segment of our food supply and stop doing the bidding of Big Ag lobbyists to create “one-size-fits-all” rules that harm family farmers, America’s consumers and our food supply.
If you’ve had enough of the corporate and government collusion in handing over our food supply to agribusiness, then please tell Secretary Vilsack and the USDA that it’s time to put farmers and food safety first.
Thanks for being such an important number making up our movement,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team