Farming's Full-Court press

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The folks at Food and Water Watch, a nonprofit advocate for safe food and drinking water, have chosen Cleveland as a hub of action for their support of Congress’ upcoming “Fair Farm Bill.”

That bill, which comes up for reauthorization this year, deals with setting policy for the agriculture industry.

“We’re concerned about mega-farms driving small and mid-sized farms out of business and controlling markets,” says local coordinator Tia Lebholz. “We’re advocating for ‘fair farm’ rules that wouldn’t put smaller farms at a competitive disadvantage.”

But since Cleveland is somewhat less known for its big-time agiculture industry than, say, its scaring-off-smart-people industry, some of have asked why we’ve earned the group’s attention.

The key reason appears to be Avon Senator Sherrod Brown, who has been receptive to the group’s issues before. For one thing, he showed his openness to grassroots-level farm and food issues last summer when he convened a roundtable at Community Greenhouse Partners at East 67th and Superior.

At Food and Water Watch’s Garden Under Glass promo appearance last week at the Galleria, they urged folks to call Brown themselves.

“We want people to thank Senator Brown for what he’s done in the past to support us, and to urge him to introduce rules that would prevent the mega-monopolies we have now — especially poultry-raising and meat-packing,” says Lebholz.

But Brown isn’t the only player to be bagged in the Forest City: Congresswoman Marcia Fudge serves on the House Agriculture Committee, and if Toledo Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur wins the March 6 primary over Dennis Kucinich, she’ll land a seat on the agriculture subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

So rest easy, humble residents: If Cleveland devolves into windswept farmland again, it will already have big guns in Washington.

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