Fresh Ideas: The green fields of government

June 6, 2013

There are times when we wonder whether we’re in the business of covering political science or food production.
Planning sessions for our agricultural publications and websites, including Fresh Cut, are often dominated by discussions on immigration reform, labor, food safety regulations, the Farm Bill, genetically-modified label laws, Obamacare, estate taxes, trucking regulations and other off-the-field topics.
I wonder  whether we’ll ever get back to writing exclusively about the art and science of growing, packaging and marketing food.
That’s when the words spoken by the teacher of my very first college class come back to me.
The scene was a lecture hall filled with freshmen waiting for American Government 100 to start. A few of us, myself included, were political science majors and eager to tackle the subject, but many of the others were there to satisfy a general studies requirement.
One of the non-majors asked the instructor why the study of government was important. The prof shot back, “because the government can legally kill you.”
The room got quiet. The man had made his point. Even in countries that have immense freedom compared to places like North Korea, government still has quite a bit of power to affect our lives and businesses. An issue such as food safety can literally be a matter of life and death, while the costs of complying with regulation can pose a major challenge to businesses with narrow profit margins.
That’s why we spend so much time on these issues and will continue to do so. It’s also why you’ll see stories on these kinds of topics in this issue that affect the day-to-day operations of a fresh-cut business. You’ll find an update of the newest truck driver hour regulations and a look at how Obamacare is rolling out. A partnership between government and private business played a key role in building a new root crop value-added facility in Maine, as profiled in our cover story.
Please let us know what’s on your mind about the issues regarding both political science and food science, by dropping me a line at [email protected] or by engaging us on Facebook and Twitter.

Lee Dean, editorial director

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