Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Right to Grow" Rally - why you should care about House Bill 853 [Feb. 28]

What passes for an egg-laying hen around these parts... lousy producer, by the way.
There is a rally to support House Bill 853 and timing is critical. The bill is currently gummed up in the House Rules Committee due the Chair of the Rules Committee's refusal to add it to the calendar. If not on the calendar, the House can't vote on it, which means it will never make it to the Senate.

If not added to the calendar by Feb. 28, this bill is as dead as your 2012 dream of fresh eggs. The ag experts at UGA recommend "3- 31/2 square feet of floor space for each bird you intend to keep for egg production" which means that pretty much any property in our neighborhood can accommodate a couple egg-producing hens. Another UGA publication entreaties local governments to adjust archaic and excessive setbacks that disproportionately hurt small family operations. The Chicken Little arguments put forth by lobbyists such as the GA Municipal Association fail the test of logic (never mind proof) in the face of successful urban agriculture ordinances in high-density locations such as City of Decatur and Atlanta.

Why Should DeKalb Care?

Food insecurity, as defined by the USDA, relates to individuals who experience "reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet" and may or may not include "disrupted access" to food (aka hunger). Another context of food security relates to a community's access to food in case of emergencies; it deals with food sources, distribution, and availability. Looking at USDA's Food Desert Map, vs. a google map outlining county limits, it is apparent that DeKalb has food security problems. Why not make it easier for people to provide for themselves? 

DeKalb Co. outline (left) and the food desert areas within it (pink overlay), per the Food Desert Locator (USDA)
If you wish to support House Bill 853 (see text here), see and the Georgia Right to Grow Facebook group.

While in the House of Representatives, real-time updates on the status of this bill can be obtained by contacting the Clerk of the House at (404) 656-5015. And contact John Meadows (R - Calhoun), Chair of the Rules Committee.

Remember: this bill is not just about eggs, it's also about access to quality local honey and the elemental comfort and peace of mind of growing your own vegetables at home and living in a community where neighbors have the resources to help one another in the case of an emergency.

For more fun with USDA data, check out their Food Environment Atlas.

Per the above Facebook group page, the Georgia Realtors Association supports this bill. And you just know they would not support a measure believed to hurt property values...