I’m never sure it will do much good, but I often sign online petitions, and even break down and compose an actual letter to my elected representatives now and then. Recently, a group [who remembers which one?] asked me to exhort my Congress folks to support a Senate bill intended to increase and encourage more local and regional food sources. As you will gather, one of my Senators sponsored the bill in question, which might account for his enthusiasm. And I know, I know — sometimes an email is just an email. Still, I would ask you to compare the following more or less automated responses from my US senators, which I find interesting, both for style and substance. If you don’t already know, you might perhaps be able to guess their respective party affiliations, from these tidbits alone. Unless you’ve been in a cave for forty years. And probably even then. – LLF
[Senator Rob Portman] Responding to Your Message
Thankyou for contacting me regarding your concerns about the importance of access to nutritious food for Americans.
It is good to hear from you.
I understand your concerns and appreciate your sharing your thoughts on this important issue. Improving and protecting the health of Ohioans and all Americans is one of our country’s top priorities. I agree there should be incentives for healthy living through prevention, wellness programs and effective disease management.
At a time when the economy is struggling to get back on its feet, we have to be careful that new policies, regulations, and taxes are not enacted that result in job loss for farmers and businesses in Ohio and across our nation. This means policies should be sensible, practical and designed to achieve results in a manner that has the least disruption on jobs and the economy.
Thank you for taking the time to contact my office. For more information, I encourage you to visit my website at http://www.portman.senate.gov.
Please keep in touch.
Reply from Senator Sherrod Brown
Thank you for sharing your support for local and regional food systems.
Local and regional agriculture is a major economic driver in the rural economy. There are now more than 7,000 farmers markets, and direct to consumer sales have accounted for more than $1.2 billion in annual revenues nationwide.
However right now, for each dollar that consumers spend on food, less than $0.16 goes back to the farmer. Supporting opportunities for farmers to sell their products directly to consumers or through shorter local supply chains means that more of a consumer’s dollar stays — in Ohio — primarily on the farm, where it is invested in local jobs and supplies and helps the local economy. A recent study shows that if northeast Ohio’s residents and businesses spent 25 percent of their food dollars on local farms and businesses, 27,500 new jobs could be created while increasing economic output by $4.2 billion and generating $126 million in local and state taxes.
That is why I introduced S. 1773, the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act. This legislation, designed to be a part of the upcoming farm bill, is a comprehensive package of reforms that would help Ohio farmers and ranchers by addressing production, aggregation, marketing and distribution needs. The bill would also prioritize consumer access to healthy, fresh food with support for technology and direct sales.
By supporting our state’s family farms we can expand farming businesses, create rural jobs, and invest in local and regional food economies. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am privileged to work on behalf of Ohio farmers to help grow our agricultural prosperity. Ohio agriculture has a rich history and a bright future. Thank you again for getting in touch with me.
United States Senator