Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Thin line between commercial and agricultural

An article in The Post today has really got my wheels turning. In Baltimore County, Md., dairy farmer Bobby Prigel, like so many other small farmers, is struggling to keep his farm in operation. Instead of shipping his milk out of state he'd like to build an organic creamery and sell his products locally - but neighbors and preservationists aren't happy about it. They don't want the rural landscape spoiled and argue that making butter, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream isn't farming, it's manufacturing. Perhaps, but I say it's innovative, not to mention a positive step towards farmers taking back a big portion of the profits that "processors" are making.

The concerns of the preservationists - from water use and paving to the possibility of the small production facility turning into a factory - are understandable but I'm sort of leaning towards the big picture. The Pollan-esque picture. A place where Sparks, Md., farmer David Smith wouldn't be locked in a two-year battle with neighbors over his proposal to open up a retail shop in order to sell his pasture-raised meat. A place where pasture-raised meat is the norm... and where happy cows get to watch their milk turn into delicious ice cream... sigh...

Keep building the market and processing facility, Prigel.

Okay... that's enough from me. The article is a must-read: The Churning Point.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Everyone agrees organic dairy farms producing their own products is a good idea. The main sticking point is that MALPF has decidced to allow Bobby to build this facility even though it isn't allowed through current zoning. Now Bobby is now forced to carry MALPF's banner (and legal cost) so that his case will open the door for allowing creameries of this size across the state regardless of long standing zoning laws. The LGVA's charter requires that they challenge any commercial development that isn't allowed by law. They are fighting MALPF for disobeying zoning regulations (not Bobby as is portrayed in the press) for granting the approval for this facility - even though it is prohibited in zoning. If the legislature changes the laws to allow this, then there won't be anything to fight. I feel bad for Bobby and his family. They are being used as pawns by MALPF in a larger state fight. Also, his neighbors have been there since 1854 - they are also dairy farmers and I think they understand what it means to live in a rural area. If everyone had followed the rules to begin with, there wouldn't have been any uproar. We all want locally grown organic, but we also need to follow the current laws in doing so.