Making the Most of Downtime, for the Farmers

In Northern Virginia, we have been relatively unscathed by the recent recession, but many of us are feeling the effects of the government shutdown. It affects not so much the government workers who now know they will be paid for the lost time, but the recipients of government health and welfare programs who are not receiving care or services and those businesses that depend on government workers or contracts. Hopefully it reminds us that we do have a say in how these things play out and that it all comes down to deeds rather than words. Voting, rather than posturing, makes a difference in the end.

But in our system of government, we can also participate in other ways as laws and policies are under consideration. I often link to announcements and alerts from various organizations that care about the issues that directly affect your ability to shop for the produce, meats, and dairy that you want at a farmers’ market. Numerous groups are working to save the small family farmers and their farming methods, to preserve our freedom to choose the foods we want to eat, and to promote expansion of our access to additive-free foods. I have been receiving weekly updates about the farm bill from most of them, and occasionally I pass them along to you.

I know how easy it is to leave petition-signing, emailing, and phoning congressional offices to others, but each comment is tallied and means even more if it comes in your own words. You are capable of learning everything you need to know to form an opinion and share that opinion with a legislator or regulator. And you may now have time on your hands to do just that.

Make yourself useful for a larger purpose. Take a break zipping through that “Honey-Do” list or cleaning out the nearest closet. Visit one of the websites listed below, sign up for a newsletter and immerse yourself in these issues that will affect you sooner rather than later. The Farm Bill is still pending; new Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations are being considered, and several organizations need your support to continue their good work. The farmers you have come to know this season are depending on us — some will not be farming in the future if some of these laws are enacted and these regulations adopted.

The farmers are for you; let’s show them what you can do for them.

Here are some sites where you can learn about these issues: