Just a quick check-in to share this compelling peek into Minnesota's local food politics. Jack Hedin is a small-time farmer who gets penalized for planting watermelons for local markets on land previously reserved for corn. Because of this violation of "corn-base acreage," not only does he forfeit subsidies (which seems reasonable, insofar as not subsidizing local watermelons is reasonable - which is to say, not at all); he is also penalized for the value of the "illicit" crop.
Federal law effectively prohibits new, small-time cultivation of any crops but the "big four" (corn, soybeans, cotton and wheat) through this cruel and absurd legal system. And, as Hedin points out, consumers are also paying the price - both in produce prices levied to pay for his "violation" and in minimized access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables.
On a large scale, U.S. agricultural policies are shutting down small producers all over the country before they even get a foothold, in order to defend the sovereignty of big fruit-and-vegetable agribusiness in California, Florida and Texas. This is yet another example of federal policy supporting the producers' interests at the expense of consumers.
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