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Congressman McGovern Shares Passion for Food Justice on Farm Tour

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2018 September Issue Newsletter

By Lydia Sivel-Irons, Public Relations Coordinator

Rep. McGovern tours fields at MHOF

Congressman Jim McGovern visited Many Hands Organic Farm on August 22 near the end of his eighth annual Massachusetts farm tour. There he spoke with farm owners Julie Rawson and Jack Kittredge about food security and the importance of producing nutritious food with ecologically sound practices. 

The morning rains had cleared as McGovern and his entourage arrived to walk the grounds of the farm in Barre. Rawson and Kittredge, along with representatives from the surrounding community and Central Mass Grown, walked the fields and spoke about what practices they find important. Rawson shared that, for her, farming is a multifaceted passion. She navigates many governmental stumbling blocks, such as state and federal regulations around animal slaughter and food safety, to bring good nutritious food to consumers. As an advocate for food security, Rep. McGovern listened with great respect for his farmer hosts. “I think I would last two minutes on your farm,” McGovern said gesturing to the fields of vegetables. “I know you work so hard, but at the end of the day you produce something important that everyone needs. You are helping people live better and fuller lives.” 

By travelling across central and western Massachusetts to visit 13 farms over two days, McGovern was able to hear about the needs of many farmers and ensure they know he understands the important role farmers play in bringing food to people in need.

As the farmers discussed the rains we have experienced this summer, McGovern did not mince words on the topic of climate change. “Something is going on on this planet,” said McGovern. “...We are having droughts, heavy rains.” He applauded the organic farming practices he saw at Many Hands Organic Farm. He was shown farming techniques that contribute to a stable climate, including regenerative agricultural practices such as moving turkeys across open sections of grass at the edge of their vegetable fields. Many Hands Organic Farm also utilizes the sun for heat and power generation and minimizes fossil fuels on the farm and homestead. “You are on the cutting edge,” McGovern commented.

McGovern is the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee and has been assigned to the “conference committee” which is currently tasked with reconciling the (very different) House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill. He is in a unique position to make revisions that support his platforms - chief among them nutritional assistance. The SNAP (food stamp) program has been gutted in the Republican backed House version of the Farm Bill. As McGovern watched Rawson move her turkeys onto fresh grass, he talked about the link between food access and health. Kittredge agreed. “If the kids who use SNAP can have access to healthy foods they will be healthier and better able to contribute to society down the line,” he said. McGovern couldn’t have agreed more as the Co-chair of the Food as Medicine caucus. “There are curative elements to the food we eat and we should be armed with that knowledge,” McGovern shared. “Whether it’s the health of the soil or it’s the knowledge we have about the food we are buying, if you want to keep people healthy and lower health care costs getting all of this right is incredibly important.” 

Many Hands Organic Farm also hosts NOFA/Mass.

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