Follow-up on foodies and farmers unite against “The Man”

The end of the story, for now, anyway.

----- Forwarded message -----
From: David Miller
Date: Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 9:35 AM
Subject: Re: Foodies and Farmers Unite Against “The Man”

It was standing room only at the Johnson County Planning and Zoning Board meeting last night. I think it is safe to say that the numbers of e-mails sent to board members and the number of people who showed up to support Susan Jutz had a lasting impression on every policy maker in the room.

It is now clear to the board and administration staff that local agriculture is changing, and is no longer confined to the realms of corn, beans and hogs. Most importantly, they realize the relationship between farmer and consumer is not always protracted and abstract.

It took nearly two and a half hours for Susan and her supporters to explain to the Board what a CSA is, how small farms fit into the big picture, and how it is important for people to build a relationship with a grower–which includes on-farm tours and activities.

At the beginning of the meeting, the majority of board members seemed on edge and very negative about Susan’s appeal. By the end, however, the board voted unanimously to overturn a previous ruling. That ruling placed punitive financial constrictions on small farmers and made it nearly impossible to have those on-farm grower and consumer connections.

Just as seed dealers are allowed to invite people to their farms for seed-trials, small vegetable farmers are now allowed to invite people to their farms for educational and promotional events.

The vote was precedent setting, not only in Johnson County, but for the entire state of Iowa (and perhaps even in neighboring states) as many locales struggle with the same question: “What is a farm and who should receive farm exemptions?”

*Changing the minds of the board members could not have happened without your support.*

Farmer Dave

Fwd: local foodies and farmers unite against “The Man”

I don’t usually do board-meetings-and-politicians politics here, preferring to deal with abstract food politics that don’t involve so many messy specifics, but this came to me via Matt Steigerwald of Lincoln Cafe. I haven’t done any fact-checking or looked into the background at all — nor do any really know any one involved — so take this for what you will.

----- Forwarded message -----
From: David Miller
Date: Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 10:14 AM
Subject: Local Foodies and Farmers Unite Against "The Man"


I just wanted you to know about a very important opportunity to stand up for local small farmers.

Tomorrow, many of us foodies, market gardeners and grain farmers will attend a Planning and Zoning Board meeting in Johnson County to show support for Susan Jutz.

Susan operates a CSA near Solon and every year she has held an educational event on her farm. Farm events are typically exempt from required “festival protocols” like big-fee permits, perimter fencing, crowd control. etc.

However Johnson County has suddenly decided that Susan does not grow on enough acres to constitute a “real farm.” Therefore, politicians there demand she follow festival protocols.

It is key that the board’s decision be reversed because it sets two very bad precedents in the state:

  1. the decision could affect the availability of future ag-related educational events (not good); and
  2. the decision allows a planning and zoning board to decide what is, and what is not an existing farm (a conflict of interest and really, really, really not good).

Tomorrow evening, Susan will appeal the board’s decision. Support from the public and fellow farmers is very important.

If you would like to overturn this bad decision, there are two ways you may help:

  1. Attend the P & Z meeting tomorrow night at 5:30 p.m at the Johnson County Administration Building (913 S. Dubuque St. in Iowa City); or
  2. Send e-mails to board members:

Rick Dvorak
Terrence Neuzil
Larry Meyers
Sally Stutsman
Rod Sullivan
Pat Harney

Also copy Susan on these e-mails so she may keep them in a file for future appeals/litigation. Her e-mail is:

Feel free to pass on this e-mail (but please don’t do a broadcast spam). Thanks for your time and support.

Farmer Dave

Fact or fiction? Public food assistance and obesity

Ironically, people on food stamps and in WIC programs are more likely to be obese than those in the general population. This has been the case for years. And a report, from a study conducted by Middle Tennessee State University and recently released by the USDA, confirms this.

But this is clearly not the official party line. While the first report carries a disclaimer (“The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ERS or USDA.”), another study that carries no such disclaimer and was released the same day admits that this may have been the case in the past but proclaims that it is no longer.

So which is it? One suspects that the problem hasn’t disappeared — America hasn’t slimmed last I checked — but that perhaps the rest of the population has just caught up.

After all, America hasn’t slimmed last I checked.