Saturday, March 01, 2008

FSA In NYTimes

The Farm Service Agency made the op-ed pages of the Times today. Jack Hedin, a MN farmer, grew fruits and vegetables on land rented from a farmer. Only problem was, the provisions of the farm program prevent growing fruits and vegetables on cropland used to establish the acres for payment.

Mr. Hedin is reasonably clear and reasonably correct--voicing his outrage about the penalties for such growing and the idea that organized fruit and vegetable growers in CA, etc. could restrict his opportunities.

He fails to note the irony that supporters of community-supported agriculture (i.e., locavores) regularly criticize the farm program for not helping fruit and vegetable growers. This provision, which has been around for 20 odd years, does help them--but like most of the rest of the farm program provisions, it helps established farmers, slowing down changes.

It's an open issue whether Mr. Hedin's landowners shouldn't have known the problem--they did, after all, sign contracts that stated that provision. But likely they're old "widow-women", as we used to chauvinistically say, who left the legal stuff to their now deceased husbands and were just trying to help out an up and coming organic farmer.

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