Plus a note on new meat labeling requirements
Want to help protect your right to raise healthy foods like raw milk and grass-fed meats? Invite your legislators to visit your farm!
Like the majority of Americans, the majority of legislators have no idea where their food comes from. Many of them have never been to a farm or they remember idyllic childhood days on their grandparents’ farm and believe that farms remain unchanged. Those that do realize that times have changed all too often believe that the factory farms are the future of food and small farms are a remnant of the past that do not actually produce much of value.
Helping our legislators to learn about the real world of today’s family farm is critical to our ability to win in the legislative and policy changes that are needed. While WAPF plays an important role in the process, we need your help to be truly effective.
Many people question the value of trying to educate legislators, because they assume that the legislators care only about campaign contributions. That is an undeniable problem. But the reality is that Big Ag (like any interest group) gives most of its donations to a relatively small number of legislators and most of the rest simply acquiesce out of ignorance. And even those who take campaign contributions from Big Ag still have to worry about being re-elected, so the concerns of their constituents do matter.
A very effective way of educating legislators is to invite them to your farm for a first-hand experience in the real world of food. You can make it an individual visit with you and your family or, even better, invite other farmers in the area and your customers. You can have an event focused specifically of meeting the legislators, or a food-related community event, such as a market day, a class, a gleaning day. Don’t worry if your farm isn’t an immaculately groomed showplace; your goal isn’t to impress them, but to give them the experience of a real family small farm, up close and personal. If possible, they should take home or sample something delicious to eat.
During the visit, you will introduce the legislators to people, giving them the opportunity to talk personally with their constituents and learn why your customers want to have local, safe food and their individual concerns with the food system. You, your fellow farmers, and your customers are voters, so your concerns matter.
Because Congressional members spend a lot of time in DC, it can be challenging to schedule such visits with your U.S. Representative and Senators, but it is worth the extra effort! Be prepared to be flexible and to work around their schedule. Congressmen often have “district work periods” when they are back home scheduled around holiday periods, such as the week before Memorial Day or the week of July 4. They are also scheduled to be in their home districts from August 6 – September 7 this year. The fact that the Farm Bill is being discussed makes this a good time to try to get your legislators’ attention on food issues, including HR 1830, the bill to legalize the interstate sales of raw milk and the many other issues facing small-scale farmers raising healthy food to sell directly to consumers.
It is also worthwhile, and often easier logistically, to invite your State Representative and Senator and local officials. The barriers to farmers’ success often come from all levels of government, and we must educate the elected officials at every level.
WAPF can help with this process. If you’re willing to invite your legislators to your farm, send an email to Activism@westonaprice.org. We’ll talk with you about which elected officials may be the best targets, how to invite them, and how to make it a productive visit
New Rules for Labeling Meat
On March 1, 2012, a federal rule requiring nutrition labeling of meat went into effect. The rule requires sellers to provide consumers with nutrition information for the “major cuts” of single-ingredient raw meat and poultry products, unless an exemption applies. Nutrition information for these products will be required either on their label or at their point-of-purchase (e.g., by sign or brochure). The final rule also requires nutrition labels on all ground or chopped meat and poultry products, with or without added seasonings, unless an exemption applies.
We have more information about the requirements and the exemptions posted at http://www.westonaprice.org/farm-a-ranch/new-rules-for-labeling-meat