Transparency

Sunshine on the Farm

Just as crops need sunshine to grow, shining the light of transparency onto farming practices is also important. To maintain a healthy relationship between consumers and the farmers we support with our tax dollars, we deserve to know where our food comes from, how it is produced, and whether it is being grown in a way that protects our environment and communities.

Fair Farms is a strong proponent of truth-in-labeling. For instance, we support stronger animal welfare standards for products labeled USDA Organic, since consumers reasonably expect that organic products aren’t coming from factory farmed conditions where animals are kept in cramped quarters without the possibility of exhibiting natural behaviors. Speaking of “natural,” the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has a policy to allow the use of the term “natural” on all food labels, except in foods that have added color or synthetic substances or flavors. Foods treated with “likely carcinogenic” herbicides like glyphosate? They can be labeled natural. Products from animals raised with a daily dose of human antibiotics or yummy growth hormones? Sure – let’s call them natural too. This lack of truth-in-labeling misleads consumers and simply must stop.

Also important is ensuring the appropriate use of our tax dollars by the government in its support of good farming practices.

Unfortunately, current Maryland law makes it virtually impossible to obtain access to public records that relate to government support for and oversight of agricultural operations. Our agriculture industry is afforded a level of secrecy that no other industry in our state enjoys.

Farm businesses receive millions of public dollars each year to help them comply with pollution control plans for fertilizing crops and managing animal waste. Despite being supported with public taxpayer funding, these plans are – for all intents and purposes – secret. While many farmers may be meeting or even going beyond the requirements of their plans, without adequate transparency there is no way for the public to know whether these plans are effective.

Maryland also has a program funded largely by taxpayers that assists farmers with transporting excess animal manure off the farm. But we cannot track where the manure goes, or be assured it does not ultimately end up back in our waterways

According to the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program, in 2014, Maryland farmers received $27 million in government grants to support cover crops, state-of-the-art animal manure storage systems, dead bird composting facilities and other tools aimed at reducing pollution from animal feeding operations.

Despite this public funding, citizens are unable to effectively track whether or not these agricultural operations have been cited for violations, have unresolved violations, and whether they are eligible for additional funding. Marylanders have the right to ensure that the government agencies that regulate farms are doing their jobs. No other business or nonprofit group could receive a government grant with an unresolved violation.

Fair Farms supports a fair food system that is transparent for consumers, allowing us to make informed choices about the food we buy, and the farms that produce it.

Latest Posts


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  • Media Alert: Little Sesame Launches Second Annual Little Seedlings Initiative Media Alert: Little Sesame Launches Second Annual Little Seedlings InitiativeFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Maddy Beckwith maddy@eatlittlesesame.com (202) 302-0375 MEDIA ALERT:  Little Sesame and National Young Farmers Coalition Come Together to Support Local Farmers   Washington, D.C. (February 12, 2020) At Little Sesame, we are committed to building meals with the highest quality, responsibly sourced ingredients. The ingredients we choose don’t just make delicious food, they support farmers doing things the right way. While ...
  • Take Action: Expand Maryland’s Cost-Share Program Take Action: Expand Maryland's Cost-Share ProgramTake Action Now to support the expansion of the Maryland Agriculture Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program (HB687/SB597)! Maryland spends approximately $30 million per year for conservation measures on farms. About 80% of these funds pay for “annual” management practices while payments for cost-effective, longer term practices like pastures and forest buffers are drastically reduced. Farmers interested ...
  • Fair Farms Legislative Priorities for 2020 Fair Farms Legislative Priorities for 2020With a new year comes new priorities for the Fair Farms campaign to focus on in the Maryland state legislature. We hope that you will be an involved participant in the legislative process this session. Write and call your legislators, submit testimony, and support bills by talking with family and friends and encouraging them to ...
  • Press Release: Fair Farms Receives $5,000 Grant from Farm Aid Press Release: Fair Farms Receives $5,000 Grant from Farm Aid   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 19, 2019 CONTACT: Shelby Kalm, Fair Farms Campaign Manager, shelby@fairfarmsnow.org FAIR FARMS CAMPAIGN RECEIVES $5,000 GRANT FROM FARM AID — Fair Farms was awarded a $5,000 grant from Farm Aid to bring together consumers, farmers, and conservationists to advocate for a food system that is equitable, fair to farmers, invests ...

 

 

 

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