If you have locally grown fruits and vegetables available to you, whether from a farmers' market or grocery store, you probably don't spend much time worrying about the loss of that produce.
But one farmer warns consumers that perhaps they should be more concerned. In an editorial in the New York Times, Jack Hedin, a small organic vegetable producer in southern Minnesota, writes that "Consumers...will be dismayed to learn that the government works deliberately and forcefully to prevent the local food movement from expanding."
When demand for his organic, locally grown goods increased, Hedin rented 25 extra acres from two nearby corn farms and planted watermelons, tomatoes, and other vegetables. He writes that all was well until the Farm Service Administration, which runs the commodity farm program, discovered the situation; the commodity farm program forbids farmers who usually grow corn or any of the other four federally subsidized crops (soybeans, rice, wheat, and cotton) from trying fruits and vegetables.
Farmers are penalized for growing these forbidden fruits, as Hedin calls them, and the bureaucracy involved makes it next to impossible for farmers to rent land to other farmers like him who want to grow fresh organic vegetables.
Why? Hedin says the big guys, the national growers based in California, Florida, and Texas, fear the competition from regional producers. He argues farmers should have a choice of what to plant, and consumers should be able to buy high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables, without government working against them.
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