The Farm Bill is under discussion in Congress, and from what I’ve heard sending emails and letters to our representatives is a surprisingly effective method of affecting how they approach an issue.
Also, as a proprietor I know I am very appreciative when a patron contacts me with questions, concerns or requests, so that we can be responsive to the needs of our community and we can continue to improve.
So, here’s the email I wrote for my representatives. For both my home and the Linkery, my reps are Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and Susan A Davis. You can look up your reps at http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/.
Dear Senators Feinstein and Boxer, and Representative Davis,
I am both a voting resident of San Diego and the owner of a small but reasonably popular community restaurant called the Linkery, in the North Park area of San Diego. I am writing to request that you further the interests of concerned eaters in San Diego, in shaping and voting on the Farm Bill.
I gather it is the conventional wisdom that only Midwestern farmers are concerned about the Farm Bill. In operating the Linkery, however, I’ve learned that there is a very large group of people who care passionately about the provenance and integrity of the food available to us in San Diego. I know from serving our community, and from discussions with our patrons, that there are a lot of people who really want to eat traditionally grown, non-industrial food — a demand which cannot be met given the difficulties imposed by our current system.
Specifically, I ask for your help in three areas with the Farm Bill:
* Creating incentives and assistance for the development of small USDA-inspected meat processors to which local independent farmers can bring their animals for slaughter and cutting. (At the moment, the nearest facility for a local farmer to use is about a 7 hour drive away, which makes local raising of animals economically and environmentally questionable…needlessly and disappointingly so.)
* Assisting the development of local farms and farmers markets through economic and regulatory assistance.
* Changing the subsidies of commodity crops so that they no longer encourage growing as much commodity crops as possible at the lowest possible cost. The quest for cheap calories by rewarding overproduction of corn and soybeans has been so effective that it’s nearly impossible to avoid processed food, whether you want to or not. I know because I try to do so myself and it’s ridiculous how little is available to eat. (It’s even more difficult to operate a neighborhood restuarant without serving processed food — we’re still trying to figure out how to do it after 2.5 years.) Californians who want the choice of not eating processed food for themselves or their children should be reasonably afforded that option. I also think this change would benefit Midwestern farmers, who, it seems to me, haven’t exactly lived a life of plenty since the introduction of incentives for constant maximum production.
Thank you for your consideration.
Owner, The Linkery
30th and Upas
San Diego CA