it does a body good

One of the most interesting and telling bits of Howard Dean’s political history is his involvement in the New England Dairy Compact, which set a floor price for milk and revitalized the dairy industry in the Northeast by helping younger people enter the dairy industry. The Compact ensures that more small farmers can make a living while also encouraging competition (unlike farm subsidies, which discourage competition). Dean was at the head of the battle for the Compact.

This story struck a chord in me, because I am strongly committed to the notion that small, local farms matter. I don’t care if smaller farms (or the policies that sustain them) charge higher prices — the benefits to society (in the form of greater genetic diversity, fresher & healthier food, dense community networks, retention of locally earned dollars, and so on) are worth it. If Americans really wanted cheaper food, they would stop eating at McDonald’s and would consume fewer processed products. Stomping out small farms is not the way to a lower food bill — it’s the way to dependence on corporations with no interest in the health of local communities or economies.

Dean has indicated that the Compact would be a model for his national agricultural policy. This is the creative approach to problem solving that our nation needs — that I need. I’m tired of seeing the same tired solutions trotted out for the same old problems — they didn’t work before, and there is no reason to expect that they will work now. We need new ideas.

Posted on August 14th, 2003 by Katxena