Friday, September 4, 2009

Alan's Soapbox - Gotcha!

Once again I find my self trying to wade through deep streams of government speak. I've been spending my leisure hours reading the Ohio Uniform Code, trying to make sense of the regulations and how they can be used to shut down a small farmer for washing his lettuce. Besides the vague doublespeak, and labyrinthine way of defining things by referring to other Code written somewhere else, I keep running into these little gotchas. It's kind of like the clause at the end of a contract that says "other duties as required." That covers everything. What I keep seeing, where ever the Code doesn't specifically define some method, is the "best practice" line. Sounds pretty innocuous. Who wouldn't be for best practices. Except...

Best practice is almost always what ever has the most research support. It isn't necessarily best, just most researched. So, what's wrong with that? Often nothing, but sometimes there are methods and practices that are good, maybe even best, that don't end up on the list because they don't have the "research support". Research is expensive. Some things get funded and some don't. Much of the funding goes to support and enhance the interests of the funders. Things that don't do that, because they run contrary to industry or because they are not patentable, don't get funding and don't get researched.

Best practice in agriculture (and probably in medicine) almost always come out favorably for the big industrial producer/supplier. They rarely support alternative/sustainable methods.

As the rules start getting inflicted on small, local scale producers, they are going to be pushed to adopt conventional "best practice" methods or go out of business.

1 comment:

Sheria said...

Ah, there are many frustrations to be found with legalese. There are an endless stream of undefinable phrases--best practices, reasonable doubt, preponderance of the evidence etc. The best place to actually get some notion of how the phrase has been applied by yhour state courts is to find some case law (court decisions) from Ohio's highest state court, in NC that would be the NC Supreme Court, that deals with applying the term "best practices" as it applies to regulations of farm practices.

Know that you are not alone in your frustration. Any decent lawyer that I know is not fond of best practices standards because of the very reasons that you cite.

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