FCS Diversity and Inclusion - PROPOSED RULE - MARCH 2011 Dear Mr. Van Meter,
I do hope this message finds you well. My name is Wendy Godek and I live in Brooklyn, NY. I am delighted to share with you how fortunate I feel to have access to locally-grown and produced food and other agricultural products in New York. I am very grateful for the opportunity to support local and regional farmers, especially our family farms and other small and medium-sized producers. My favorite place on Saturday mornings is the Fort Green Greenmarket where I am able to shop for a vast array of products (including fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, fish, eggs, cheese, dairy products, plants, and honey) produced by farmers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut that are of superior quality and at the same time support the endeavors of the farmers and other food producers.
I believe that it is essential that local and regional producers, especially small and family farms, have access to much needed credit so that they can continue to produce and distribute food that is accessible not only in terms of availability but also in terms of price. It is imperative that we provide these producers with a minimum of 10% of the FCA's budget and I would like to see much more than 10% allocated for such investment. We need to provide these producers with greater support from the FCA and increased opportunities for representation in the FCA.
I work with transnational social movement organization of small and medium rural producers called La Via Campesina. La Via Campesina advocates what we call food democracy - the ability of citizens to directly participate in the design and implementation of local, regional, national, and international food systems. One step towards democratizing the process by which food and agriculture policies are made is by including local and regional producers on the FCA board.
Furthermore, local and regional food producers are extremely valuable to our local communities in terms of providing a diversity of products, the sale of which on a local level provides income that is reinvested in our communities. This thereby strengthens our local economies, keeps small and medium-sized producers in business, helps us to become more self-sufficient in terms of production, and provides consumers with fresh, local food.
In closing, I encourage the FCA to take broad measures to work more closely with local and regional producers in order to strengthen local food economies, enhance interaction between the FCA and local and regional food and agriculture producers, provide these producers with not only credit but also technical assistance and training, and continue to build a more just, sustainable, and economically viable food system in the United States that puts our citizens and their needs first.
Many thanks to you for your attention to this matter and please feel free to contact me at any time.