December 13, 2017
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Comments for: Small farmers at Ellsworth forum say rules for big farms don’t work for them

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Maine’s agriculture industry continues to grow and diversify even as farmers grapple with one-size-fits-all regulations, competition from “agribusinesses” elsewhere and the challenges of marketing for small-scale producers. Those were the themes Monday night as about 70 people — many of them small-scale farmers… Read More
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  • Anonymous

    Although I appreciate the plight of regulation on small scale farming I also know that not every small agricultural operation is run by someone who knows how to handle their products.  Even today I see hogs being raised and fed in mud pits full of excrement, a sure route to trichinosis.  I’ve seen raw milk handled improperly as well as the milking animal.  Some don’t even wash the teats before milking.  I’ve seen chickens being fed refuse on top of old refuse that is so old it is composting.  Oh, and then there is the mixing of wild birds with the home flock, a definite no no.  Once I met a farmer who slaughtered a sick cow and then sold the meat because she couldn’t afford the loss. So knowing the farmer and trusting them, not matter how well intentioned they may be, is not a guarantee of healthy food that has been handled properly.

    • If you see any of the above practices . . . you don’t buy from them and they quickly go out of business . . . and word of mouth and gossip travels very fast especially with the Internet.  Three generations ago in rural America that is how it worked.  Local Agriculture control was in place at the county or town level.  Small butcher shops, dairies, greengrocers, etc . . . were common on the Main Street of every Town.  Once Agricultural control was taken over by the State and Federal government . . . Big Ag lobbyists began to call the shots with expensive regulatory burden placed on small farmers  and the local small farmer faded away.  .  . the Corporate model of farming then took over.   Now we have many people starting small farms . . . some are very successful and have a large customer base and some do not just like the examples above . . . .just like in any small business.  There is a term for this . . . it is called the “Free Market”.  Everyone that I know that cares about where their food comes from has this motto . . .  “Know your Farmer”. 

      • Anonymous

        As a chef, and someone who has embraced the farm to table concept, I can post that I agree with both your statement and the one you responded too.

      • Anonymous

        I won’t go into a long diatribe about big agricultural companies nor the effectiveness of randomly applied local regulatory efforts.  However I will repeat the original point I made.  Knowing your farmer does not guarantee anything!  To make any judgement concerning a farmers agricultural methods you must be knowledgable of the proper agricultural techniques yourself.  When a product has been inspected and meets all government standards, you can rest assured that the product is (mostly) going to be OK even without personal knowledge of those standards or doing the farm inspection yourself.  Now, having said all of this, I freely admit that I am not current regarding safe agricultural practices and yet, yes, I still do buy products from local farmers.  The point is, you have to know what your looking at to know if it is accepted agricultural practice or not.  Far and away most people do not have this knowledge.

        • I strongly disagree.  If you raise healthy animals and plants you will have healthy food.  . . . as a farmer an open door policy is a great marketing tool . . . and you teach your customers about husbandry and those customers can see first hand the health of the animals . . .  I have to take my poultry 3 hours from downeast to get processed in Augusta . . . and never has one bird been rejected for disease.   I am a small farmer who did not get a degree in Agriculture but successfully raises heritage breeds and heirloom vegetables.  The government currently is in the process of finalizing GAP regulations . . . if those are adopted, I will no longer be able to keep animals and sustainably use my compost for my vegetable gardens . . . this practice goes back thousands of years.  People are smarter than you think . . .  and government does not always know best and needs to stop nannying us to death . . .

    • Anonymous

      1.  Chickens should be fed refuse.  If each of us owned a couple of chickens to gobble up our kitchen scraps, tons upon tons of garbage would be kept from landfills & incinerators.

      2.  Many farmers now use a germicide dip solution in lieu of “washing” the teats.  In fact, this is much more sanitary than using a hose or sprayer system like most large-scale dairies use.  I’ve worked on a dairy farm that produces raw milk, and dip was the system they used.

      Knowing your farmer IS a guarantee of healthy food.  “Knowing” doesn’t mean recognizing them by sight.  It means knowing their character, their operation, and perhaps witnessing first-hand how your food is produced.  I’ll take “knowing my farmer” over any ridiculous rules from the Department of Monsanto – I mean, USDA – any day of the week!

      • Anonymous

        I strenuously disagree with pretty much everything you said.   You know my wise old friend, this discussion isn’t about Monsanto and the merits of big agricultural companies.  The discussion is about whether or not small farmers should be required to meet minimum standards that guarantee a healthy product which is sold to the public.

  • Anonymous

    double post, removed by author.

  • Anonymous

    I like the idea of the constitution…..

    Since people do not necessarily know each other across state lines and the food has to travel further, there are interstate, federal government regulations from the FDA. However, as long as it stays in the state it is up to the state. I could say the same thing from county to county.

    If it stays in the county, it is smaller and people are more apt to know each other. If it travels across county lines people do not always know each other as well, and the food could potentially travel further, and have more need for preservation. I could break this down from town to town.

    Licensing can be expensive, and money is tight and has been tight for the past decade, but I agree the knowledge is important.

    Why does it have to be so expensive to prove one’s knowledge and ability? Where is the opportunity in that?

    This used to be the land of opportunity where you did not need a degree to be successful, or the money to get a degree to be successful.

    Yeah, some things are subsidized, but middle class does not qualify and they still may not have the money. The people determining who can and does qualify have no concept of their income level, or if they do they know we do not have the money to subsidize everyone.

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