There are many players.
Definitely as many as there are organizations, policy makers, movers and shakers, and interested parties. Breaking it down roughly, we find these major angles:
1. Farmers with ARLF loans who are footing the bill. Since day one, they have accepted loss after loss after loss, due to mismanagement, or market forces, or whatever. They are the ones shouldering the entire loss, in the form of the interest they pay on their loans. (While this makes a great point, that MMM&S does not cost the State of Alaska a dime, it does not address the burden on the roughly 90 farmers who are forced to pay for those losses)
2. Farmers/producers who are attempting to get something done from the inside-that is, the system itself. These are the folks who sit on boards and committees of various organizations, who know the issue very well.
3. The discontented ignorant, who want to slash all funding for Ag, period, whatever the fallout. On this side are some politicians-and I call them ignorant because they do not seem to know #1 above.
4. The up in arms, small producers/consumers who are just becoming really aware. They see the USDA plant as *necessary*, and not just to their livelihood. They are not welcomed by sides 1, 2, or 3.
5. Concerned newbies. They may not understand why closing the plant is bad idea, but they know that any facet of agriculture that is shuttered, is bad for everyone. They are new to Alaska, have no idea who the movers and shakers and policy makers are, and have no hope of obtaining funding from any local source. (Even though that would spread the burden among more borrowers)
6. The politician/policy maker who knows the facts, and chooses to use the plant as a political football to score points. They make policy by sound bite, have no time or inclination to listen to remedies unless it comes through "the process", and in this time of fiscal disaster, know they must appear to be budget hawks where it doesn't matter. That would be Ag, of course.
7. The side that tried to pull together to work up a solution that will keep the USDA certification and the plant up and running. They don't want anyone else mucking around, and all the rest of the Johnny-Come-Lately folks should just get out of the way. They know what they're doing, convinced their plans and ideas are better than....well, everybody else.
8. The group(s) that liken themselves to *the* policy makers, who want to work in conjunction with whatever crumbs the State allows, and whatever the "stakeholders" will agree with. They too, have no ear for the humble, small producer/grower, since their focus is industry.
9. And finally....the many smaller growers/producers who have no idea what is happening with the USDA plant known as MMM&S. These folks are too busy working hard to pay attention to the many players, the organization memberships and their boring meetings, the myriad of programs and their administrators. Too busy actually.....farming, to worry about what they know they cannot change.
Who has been overlooked in the list above?
Why, everyone else who consumes food within the State of Alaska, that's who. Because while the majority surely do not consume locally produced meats or vegetables today, they will be relying on every single producer, should some interruption of Alaska food supply occur. This all circles back around food security......something many have forgotten in the divisive nature of the discussion surrounding the closing of one single USDA certified plant in Palmer, Alaska.