Govt stifles growth of local food

Farmer Jack Hedin of Featherstone Farms in Rushford recently published a New York Times opinion piece about his efforts to expand his production of organic produce being stifled by the Agriculture Department's commodity farm program.

If you buy local, organic fruits and veggies, you've probably eaten Featherstone's food as the farm supplies all of the Twin Cities co-ops, Whole Foods, Lunds/Byerly's, Kowalski's, plus restaurants like the Birchwood Cafe, Lucia's, and Common Roots. But the demand for local foods is growing to include a much wider distribution network, and when I checked in with Hedin this week, he told me that's why he’s been trying to expand his operations. When a wholesaler asked him to supply melons for large supermakets such Cub Foods last year, he says, he simply didn’t have enough product. "They wanted twice or three times what I could produce," he says. Hedin has been trying to raise awareness about the Farm Bill in the midst of trying to recover from last year's flood, which he estimates caused about half-million dollars worth of damage to the farm. "The Federal Farm Bill is something that anyone who eats in this county has an enormous stake in," he says.