Seth Wheeler, myGroFarm Founder, testified for Maryland farmer's rights at the state legislature.
Online PR News – 23-February-2010 – – Seth Wheeler the Co-Founder of myGroFarm testified on behalf of Maryland farmers at the state capitol in Annapolis, Maryland in February 2010.
Today, we're facing two seemingly harmless bills (HB166, HB167 in the House AND SB198, SB199 in the Senate) which are being pushed through without opposition. These bills will take the regulatory and licensing procedures out of the democratic arena of the county governments and consolidate them in the unelected official's hands at the Department of Health. This bill is being sold as an easier way for local farmers to get their products to market, they'll only have one licensing procedure to go to and as long as they follow the standards and regulations set in place by the Dept. of Health, everything will work out just fine.
Seth wanted to know: Are these people going to have any vested interest in big agriculture, grocery stores, fast food, govt. subsidies, etc.? Would these connections prevent them from making the most ethical choices when dictating what local farmers and consumers are going to be allowed to do in the market place and the privacy of their own farms and homes?
Something told Seth that he just had to go and voice his opinion on this matter. The hearing was by the MD House Health and Government Operations Committee at the Lowe House Office Bldg. in Annapolis.
The second bill, HB167 supposedly sets up a licensing process to be able to provide customers with samples of your product. It was explained that it is currently illegal to cut up an apple and give a potential customer a slice to try, but this new legislation would make the opportunity available to the farmer once they registered to give out samples. Sarcastically he said, "This would make the public safe from the fly by night, wild west mentality of today's farmer's markets [...] I wouldn't want my child to sample real, raw organic food without the government watching over everything."
After the discussions of the first few bills, Delegate Hubbard, who proposed this bill, was then called to testify on the basics of HB166 & HB167. He said that he didn't know much as he was asked by some Senators to propose it to the House and that he probably wouldn't be able to answer any questions. One of the delegates on the board made the comment that he knew the bill was being supported by a large meat company, but Delegate Hubbard wasn't sure of who it was or why they supported it.
Seth Wheeler finally was called to testify as the only opponent to the bill. He apologized for his appearance stating, "I had just left a garden this morning and that I must have left my razor and suit in my other Maserati!"
He informed them that this bill would effect him because he gets almost all of his food from local growers or my own backyard. He had not heard any complaints about the regulation process from any of the farmers he deals with nor from any of the consumers he had spoken with. In fact, the local, organic, sustainable movement has gained a lot of speed recently. Government regulation in the food industry which has set very strict standards to be able to label your product "organic" but there were currently no requirements to label genetically modified food, fertilized food, pesticides used, artificially ripened, etc.
Seth concluded by informing them that he is a US Army veteran and a patriot and finally stating, "Stop messing with my food! Thank you for your time."
Seth was confronted afterward by proponents of the bill who tried to sway him.