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Count Your Blessings, But . . .!

Costs of intervening federal regulations linked to food insecurity

Every single one of us in America has good reason to count our blessings on Thanksgiving Day – every day, for that matter. We don’t have to look far beyond our fences to see others who are far less fortunate.


But you and I have a hugely important incentive for preserving those blessings for future generations. And we simply cannot continue on our current course of Uncle Sam’s lack of accountability.


We’ve reached the tipping point in our society where the wealthy and our elected leaders have an attitude: “I’ve got mine, and I’m entitled to it. You have to settle for what’s left.”


Yes, that sounds radical. But you’ve seen this entitlement attitude gaining strength over the last decade. We want to save the environment – now – at any cost. We want tougher food safety regs at any cost. We bailed out banks at huge costs. Now, Uncle Sam threatens to run (or ruin?) the best health care system in the world – all of this amid a major recession.


Congress, the President and much of the mainstream news media apparently have trouble connecting the costs of regulation with overburdened taxpayers. They seem to think that providing short-term tax relief to middle and lower income families is good enough. They seem to think that farmers should be fine if they apply for enough innovation grants and cost-sharing funds. The truth is – it isn’t.


Cost of staying in business erodes food security


My editorial in May’s issue was headlined to the effect of “Government gone wild”. At that point, we hadn’t seen anything compared to what has happened since.


In recent weeks, I’ve visited five of the Northeast’s most successful farmers. What they see in their industries and in their own businesses makes them fearful.


Highly productive producers are quitting the food production business because of current costs of regulation, inability to find labor and overburdening regulations. They’re simply wearing down and weary of the growing burden of doing business. U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin’s (D-MD) bill to make President Obama’s Chesapeake Bay clean-up executive order a rule of law is just one example.


Those costs of doing business have come home to my family as well. My daughter and her husband work hard to support their family without government help. Neither have high-paying jobs, and one is working fewer hours due to the economy. They have trouble keeping enough food in the house, and would rather miss a few meals than ask for help. I’m fairly certain that you, too, have the same situation in your family.


They may be among the 49 million Americans who are “food insecure”, according a U.S. Department of Agriculture study released early this month. In 14.6% of all households, at least some members experienced decreased food intake and disrupted eating patterns during 2008 – highest since 1995 when the data was first collected.


Those numbers will be much higher when the bean counters finish work for 2009. There are likely many more people struggling with hunger than the report states, hints Vicki Escarra, CEO of Feeding America. And this year, pressure on food banks across the country far exceed 2008 levels – 30 to 50%, she reports.


Ignoring the underlying reasons


U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack recently suggested that the fundamental reason for food insecurity in the U.S. is poverty, marked by a lack of resources to address basic needs such as food, shelter and health care. The Obama Administration’s solution is to spend more taxpayer dollars via the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009.


You can’t create private industry jobs without increased revenue prospects. How can you do that in the face of rising regulatory costs and higher taxes for a federalized health care system. Small business development and growth has been the lifeblood of our economy – not federal income support, food stamps, unemployment insurance and affordable housing.


If you remain silent on the national health care controversy, you’ll get bit of government you deserve – and will pay for it. Federal spending must be reined in. That means you must rein in your elected officials.


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