Senator Tester (D, Montana) has been pushing an amendment to the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 exempting small farms from the bill’s provisions. The wisdom of this legislation and the amendment are subjects of legitimate debate, but the Senator reveals his actual agenda in this quote:
“Small producers are not raising a commodity, but are raising food. Industrial agriculture takes the people out of the equation.”
So, is Tester saying that most of what American farmers grow is not actually food? Is he saying the people who grow it are not people? What is a “small producer?” Do 40% of Americans need to move back into full time farming for us to have “food?”
What Senator Tester’s insulting remarks actually reveals is how little he knows about American farming. He needs to read the statistics that our government tracks showing that the vast majority of American farmland is still in family owned and operated farms (see map below). He would do well to actually visit some other types of farms that he believes to be “industrial” to see what a great job they do and how hard they work to maintain food safety and quality. He needs to show a little respect for a community of hard working, risk-taking people that are providing us with excellent, affordable, nutritious food. The broad-brush use of the terms “industrial” and “factory” as slurs against most farmers merely indicates a lack of familiarity with the diversity and reality of modern farm operations.
Image of Sen. Tester from the US government via Wikimedia
Map from USDA NASS
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