Farm To Fork Across America: Help plant a "Mother Orchard" with the strongest, drought and pest resistant wild trees and vines found in California
Farmer Wendy Baroli & Chef Mark Estee Bridge The Sustainable Meat Gap In Reno
Chef de Cuisine Dante Cecchini, Wanderlust in a Pop-up Kitchen
Chef Seth Caswell, Technology and Healthy Food for Emotional Well Being, Google and Adobe Style
Chef Tom Douglas, "Deliciousness Served With Graciousness" in Seattle
Chef Stephan Pyles... Limitless in Texas
Kanaloa Seafood: Netting the Spirit of Environmentally Responsible Fishing
FoodShed Exchange Celebrates With Great Farmers, Friends & Family
Restrauteur and Farmer Pete Eshelman: Hunger for Humanely Raised Beef With a Nutritional Twist
Chef Natalie Sellers: Artisan Parmesan, Vertical Tasting, and Food Culture in Reno
Fisher Heidi Dunlap: Wild Alaskan Salmon Running for Their Lives
Chefs Collaborative Upgrading the Quality of Our Food Supply
Amigo Bob... Influencing the Neyers Vineyard of Napa Valley
A Kinfolk Honey Gathering... Supporting Our Homeland Security
Quality U.S. Grown Food IS Our Homeland Security
Composting the Biggest Rib Cookoff in America
Visuals Only Because Most Haven't Been (PHOTOS)
Farming Beyond Me... Fighting the Tide in a Sea of Wheat
"An Apple a Day..." or Hundreds of Thousands From Tree Top
Bluebird Grain Farm: East of the Cascades in a Sea of Emmer
Sea-Crop Soup, From Sea To Shining Sea
Chef Jerry Traunfeld, Soulful in Seattle
Horse Power on Betsey's Farm, Bainbridge Island, WA
Nature, An Instrument of Restoration
Homeless Garden Project: A Safe Place To Go
GirlFarm, A Field Of Dreams
Craft Bartender Naomi Schimek: Foraging in L.A. With Time To Spare
Mad Chef Jimmy Schmidt
In The Body Of Bread, The Holiness Factor Revealed
Legacy For The Essential Farm Fashionista
All photography © Julie Ann Fineman, unless otherwise noted.
Small Farms/Big Ag…….a different paradigm
Economically small farms do not require subsidy, but they do require access to money in forms of more SARE grants, more specialty crop research (government term for the real food that we eat) and a realistic separation from the over-regulation of big ag.
For example, when food is handled by someone other than the farmer or the consumer, the impacts are significant to the food safety system. If you can imagine, even a large organic farm works like this:
In contrast, the operational idea of a small farm is that the consumer becomes the responsible party for their eating. The relationship built with the local farmer and local community can act as the safety mechanism by shear proximity. If you know the people you are providing food for and you do a bad job - the result is you loose your business the ultimate mechanism of fair capitalism. Large ag has no idea who it feeds, or the results if someone is made ill by their food. Correspondingly, there are added costs for insurance and expected business losses.
The issue of regulation must be one OF SCALE. Big ag moans and complains about unfair competition because small farms are less regulated. I would say BS to that notion. If I make my customer sick by selling bad eggs or pork raised in cages, there will be an immediate backlash. If a large egg company sells salmonella infected eggs and people get sick, they are fined but go on selling eggs. Regulation related to appropriate scale is the only responsible way to govern food safety.
In terms of labor, internships are a way to gain valuable experience. As experience-based education, the Labor Department should not interfere. My family came to this county under similar conditions. The opportunity to come to America and one day own land, meant that my grandfather had to work hard to pay off his passage debt, had to learn English, had to earn his living to be a citizen and had to raise his family. I am a result of this experience. If they had been taxed and over-regulated, the small-farm family that sponsored him could not have allowed him to work for them for two years to achieve his goals.
The reality is that workers compensation, health insurance, and social security payments prevent the economic opportunity to teach and create new farmers. Small farm interns should not be in the same employment category as farm labor. A standard OF SCALE for what an internship includes and a central reporting mechanism for abuse would be appropriate. A deregulation free-for-all is not appropriate, but to apply large ag rules to small farms stops the incubation process of local economic opportunity necessary to create small farm business.
To make a significant impact on fresh local food production, small farms need to be distinct from the Farm Bill, which is more appropriately labeled a commodities bill. Things like WIC and food programs should be in a separate bill. Finally small farming should be yet another. Yes this is complicated, but in reality we are all relying on a ponderous document. The funding mechanism for the Farm Bill actually prevents our ability to respond to food safety, to respond to the economic drivers that created our agrarian based nation and to create the adaptability needed to provide healthy local food to feed our nation.
Where large ag is really is about global trade, large corporations and manufacturing, small farms actually feed people in the United States. The needs of these very different sectors of the nations food supply cannot and should not be treated under the same review.
I believe that we can change our ag economy with the proper land based training for small farming near urban markets. I believe that each child should have the opportunity to know where their food really comes from and should be taught to prepare and cook food by shifting small farming education into the local schools. We cannot change the fact that food in a box, or from drive ups, will continue to be in demand. However, we can begin to change how our children think about food by connecting them to gardens and to actual small farms
These changes will only happen through research into how to change small farming education and how to shift small farming production into the local economy. In addition, we need mechanisms in place to enable small farmers to pass on their farms without the huge penalty of inheritance tax and a way to preserve farmland from development encroachment by funding conservation easements. Most importantly, we need regulation that is responsible OF SCALE for farms that gross under $500,000/year and employ less than 50 people.
GirlFarm, A Field of Dreams
Contents © Copyright 2010-2014 Julie Ann Fineman (aka Julie Brothers). All rights reserved.