FCS Diversity and Inclusion - PROPOSED RULE - MARCH 2011
Dear Mr. Van Meter,
I am a small farmer in northern Illinois, near Chicago. I lease 49 acres, where I grow mixed vegetables. I sell directly to the public, through a community-supported agriculture (CSA) marketing system I organized. This is my 9th year. Last year my farm revenue was $268,000. In the Chicago area there is a tremendous amount of interest in buying locally-grown foods, but there is not enough supply. I know many individuals who have worked at my farm over the past 10 years who would like to have farms of their own, but they are having trouble assembling the capital, so they are unable to set up or buy a farm. Meanwhile, my CSA sells out every year, and I receive over 30 requests a year to come sell at farmers markets. These farmers markets are a good idea, but there are not enough real farmers growing local vegetables to stock them. Consequently, a lot of the sellers at the farmers markets are not farmers at all—they are peddlers who buy wholesale at the Chicago international produce terminal, then sell the imported produce to a gullible public.
The FCS ought to be helping and supporting local small farmers. This will create jobs. This will contribute to our nation’s food security. This will help the public to have access to fresher, more nutritious vegetables.
The FCS ought to have an investment goal for local and regional food producers of not less than 10% of the capital within 5 years. There should be local and regional food producers on the FCS board. There should be training for the FCS staff so they better understand how to serve local and regional food producers. The FCS ought to do these things because they are the right thing to do.
Please make these changes. Thank you.
Steve Tiwald 10S404 Knoch Knolls Rd Naperville, IL 60565