In reference to the news story “Proposed farm filming ban ignites rights debate in Pennsylvania” (May 6 and TribLIVE.com): As a local farmer, I oppose House Bill 683 proposed by state Rep. Gary Haluska, D-Cambria. And I find his justification for the bill disingenuous as well.
As a farmer who raises beef on grass, I am happy to have the people who eat the food that I produce see how I raise my animals. Food is not just another product; we ingest it to nourish ourselves, and there needs to be complete transparency between those of us who produce it and all of us who eat it. This open communication is the basis of all good relationships, and a good relationship with all my customers is what I want as a farmer.
It is also the basis of why the Pennsylvania Farmers Union (PFU) does not support HB 683. The PFU supports not just family farms, but the idea that each eater is entitled to know where food comes from. Any legislation that, for whatever reason, tries to limit eaters' right to know how and where their food is produced is antithetical to the objectives of conscientious farmers and their customers.
As a farmer, I want to strengthen my relationship with those who eat the food that is the result of my work. The PFU is an organization of like-minded farmers, and we cannot agree to anything that impedes easy communication and understanding. No, HB 683 serves the all-too-transparent desire of the food industry to rob its customers of the right to know where their food comes from. It serves the interests of neither conscientious farmers nor the food-eating public.
The writer is president of the Pennsylvania Farmers Union (pafarmersunion.org).
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