On Arizona House Bill 2822

Representatives Pancrazi, Farley, Saldate, Tovar, Ableser, Alston, Crandell, Jones, McCune, Davis and Pratt have decided that Arizona needs a new organization which they would like to call the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Farm-to-School Programs. It will be the purposes of this organization, they propose, to engage in all of the following four activities:

  • Evaluate methods to facilitate the purchase of locally grown produce by schools, school districts and charter schools.
  • Evaluate methods to encourage educational opportunities at school sites through school and community gardens and field trips to provide school pupils a greater understanding of where the pupils’ food comes from and what it takes to produce that food.
  • Evaluate mechanisms and recommend proposed legislation to address any administrative, logistical or legal barriers that deter or prevent school districts and charter schools from purchasing locally grown foods.
  • Consider the need for a full-time position at the Arizona department of agriculture to facilitate the exchange of information and purchases between farmers and schools.

Now it will seem that this is hardly the most nefarious thing that could emerge from our dear Arizona legislature. This impression is made all the stronger when it is considered that the legislation includes a clause to automatically repeal itself on September 30th 2014.

But, when it comes to the efforts of government, we always need to consider whether a measure, policy, department or committee and the goals these serve could be also served without involving the government at all. That we need not trust the same organization which arbitrates violence and puts people to death, with the provision of our food for fear of what might result, I think, and I say this without at all meaning to be melodramatic, characterizes the core of the anti-communist impulse. To the extent, especially when it is similarly practicable, another voluntary organization can serve the same goals, we as citizens ought to organize, voluntarily, to achieve them.

And that is the position that I take with regards to this bill. While if schools, parents and schoolchildren would like to source their lunches locally, I will lend my admiration. Even more so will I lend my support, rhetorical and material to the educating of children on where their food comes from; that soil must be tilled and animals raised in order for us all to have full bellies. A waning consciousness of this almost eternal fact of life has been one of the great casualties of our increasingly complex economy and concentrated city life.

In my endorsement schools’ and parents’ intentions and educational goals I can heartily support the third goal of the committee, to investigate and remove barriers to schools buying food locally. For this task there can be nothing more appropriate, but perhaps a Federal panel, to investigate the current roadblocks than a committee of legislators and state education and agriculture officials and industry representatives. This is principally because a majority of a committee so constituted would be people whom either themselves or their predecessors are responsible for the regulatory situation they now endeavour to undo.

The other three proposed goals, however, simply invite more government involvement and add to the rolls of public employees.

By Brandon Mitchell

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