A DISPUTE HAS has broken out between the Marquette Food Co-op and some of the local farmers who sell their produce to the Co-op.
The Co-op is insisting that all its local farmers take part in a federal food safety program known as Good Agricultural Practices or GAP.
If they don’t start preparing for the GAP certification, then the farmers won’t be able to sell their produce at the Co-op during next year’s harvest.
Certification helps ensure food safety, reduces possible liability costs for both the Co-op and the farmers in the future, and might also enable the farmers to sell their produce to institutions and larger buyers.
Problem is, GAP certification costs money. One farmer estimates it might be up to $6000 a year. The Co-op says that’s likely an exaggeration and in fact, ten farms did it last year for just about $500 apiece although they had financial help because they were part of a pilot program.
Still, most local farms are operating with just marginal profit, and an extra two or three thousand dollars in costs might be the difference between making it or going under.
There’s another cost: in time. The farmers will likely spend an extra three or four hours a week making inspections and checking off lists dealing with such things as deer poop in the fields, cleanliness of bins, and the temperature of coolers.
Three other factors to consider, from the farmers’ point of view: 1) The USDA does not require the GAP certification for produce. It just thinks it’s a good idea 2) Some out-of-state produce at the Co-op, in fact, doesn’t have GAP certification, and 3) The Co-op, as far as we know, has never had a problem with produce contamination and foodborne illnesses.
So why make the changes?
Is this just another story about government interference and bureaucracy? For the small farmer trying to make an honest living doing what he or she loves, it might seem that way.
This is the sort of thing–rules, regulations and reliance on government programs and funding– that turns progressives into libertarians.
The Co-op sympathizes and wants to help, but it also wants to protect itself and its customers.
Bottom line? Some of the farmers will likely refuse GAP certification and pull out of the Co-op next year. Lose-lose.
YOU’RE GOING TO have to wait a couple of months longer for the opening of the much anticipated restaurant The Marq next to the Childrens Museum.
The primary reason? No liquor license yet and some bureaucratic hoops yet to jump through. Sound familiar?
The inside of the restaurant, featuring a sleek bar and black walls–some of them painted as though they’ve been charred–looks about ready to open.
Farm-to-table food. A distinctive atmosphere. Casual yet classy. A place to stop in for a drink or two. That’s what the Marq will be striving for.
When it does open, it’ll be entering a remarkably competitive food scene in a town of only 21,000 people. Good for us.
FIFTEEN MILES TO the west, a similar story for the Cognition Brewing Company in the Old Mather Inn in Ishpeming.
They’d been hoping to be serving their microbrews by now but various problems with equipment, inspections, etc have held things up.
They do have their liquor license and they hope to start brewing shortly. Opening date? Maybe a couple months.
Note to aspiring bar and restaurant owners: When predicting an opening date, add two months. And then maybe two more.
IF YOU’VE BEEN counting on that 15 cent dividend on each of your Cliffs shares each quarter, forget it.
Management needed to reduce its debt so it eliminated the dividend. So it goes.
Now we just have to hope that the stock price of our favorite mining company can rebound from the financial bath it’s been taking for the last few years.
This just in! Cliffs soars 11% to a whopping $7.75 a share after fourth quarter earnings come in! Woohoo!
Add another $100 or so, and we’re all back in the black.
REMEMBER ALL THOSE meteorologists and climatologists warning us that this winter would be as bad as last winter, maybe worse?
Sure, we had the snowiest and coldest November on record, but since then it’s been downright…average. A little snow here, a couple flakes there, six degrees here, 28 degrees there. Nothing like last winter.
So what happened?
Weather guru Karl Bohnak, who says he, himself, never predicted a repeat of last year’s brutal cold, still concedes that it has been a little balmier than even he expected.
The reason? “An intrusion of Pacific air” is how Bohnak puts it. That means that relatively moderate air from over the Pacific Ocean has managed to sneak past the Rockies and settle over the U.P. Last winter, a ridge blocked that air from sneaking through.
Okay. More important is what lies ahead in this second half of the winter. Bohnak doesn’t expect anything extraordinary–a cold February without much snow from storm systems, and then a warmer March when we might get a little bit more of the white stuff.
No snowpocalypse. No deep-freeze. Just a U.P. winter. We’ll take it.
You got news? Click Here to email Brian.
Enjoy this article? Share it with your friends: