What Is Your Government Doing to Protect Small Farmers from Big Food?


It’s no secret that we ES-ers are all for locally sourced, minimally processed food. You may remember forkitude’s post about how big food conglomerates have an outsize say in what America eats. Clearly, we’re wringing our collective hands about such things. But apparently, not everyone agrees. I had an interesting conversation on this matter last week and received the surprising response that I was anti-business and a “borderline hippie.” I find it interesting how divergent food views have become and how efforts at improving the quality of food are often ridiculed or even worse, politicized.

Surprisingly, it appears our government may actually be listening. The US Department of Justice and the USDA recently convened a series of public workshops exploring corporate concentration and competition in food and agriculture. The five meetings, led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, included discussions about the dairy, poultry and livestock industries and how corporate food is affecting small farmers and consumers.

While we do not know yet if these meetings will yield any real change, it was impressive to see how many small farm and community groups made sure they were heard. The big industry voices were not present, but that may be because they can relay their opinions through other channels (like lobbyists). Here are a few of the topics touched upon:

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