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|Wednesday, September 2, 2009|
Food Producers Threaten to "Go Galt"
By Monica @ 12:45 PM
Over the past several months, there's been an enormous wave of concern over "Obamacare." Even the CEO of Whole Foods condemned Obama's healthcare plan. Some doctors have even threatened to go on strike. I highly recommend a good resource on the current "healthcare" debacle: We Stand Firm.
But much less attention has been given to some recent food legislation bills. However, the proposed increase in "food safety" regulations are having the exact same effect: producers of food are threatening to go on strike.
I've written about the most recent legislation in question, HR 2749, here. From a BusinessWeek article by David Gumpert entitled Small Food Producers Question Greater FDA Powers, here's a brief summary of HR 2749:
There's a big push in Washington to pass new food safety legislation. The House has already passed a major bill, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, which would significantly expand the Food & Drug Administration's authority to oversee food companies, and the Senate is expected to act on a similar version once its recess ends after Labor Day. President Barack Obama has indicated he will sign whatever the legislators finally approve.
The intensive action is coming in response to a number of highly publicized food recalls involving everything from peanut butter to spinach to cookie dough to raw hamburger over the last three years. The new law would seem to reduce the chances of food contamination by clamping down on producers—requiring detailed, written, quality plans, more frequent FDA inspections, and tough penalties for violations.
These "written food safety plans" have been estimated to cost thousands of dollars to enact.
If the idea of medical service providers going on strike bothers you, how about producers of food? Sound too implausible to be true? David Gumpert writes:
For Destandau, the latest federal efforts to crack down on food producers is part of a long-term trend. When he started in business in 2003, he had one inspector to deal with, from the California Food & Agriculture Dept. Now he deals with more frequent and costlier inspections from both the CDFA and the county health department. As Destandau contemplates the addition of FDA inspectors, he considers leaving the U.S. entirely. "Right now, we are seriously looking at moving to Australia," he says.
Of course, as with healthcare, the increased regulatory burden would not cause food production to grind to a swift halt. However, a certain number of food producers would simply stop producing -- and quality and choice would gradually decline over the coming years and decades.
The true answer to food-borne illness is a free market. That means de-regulating large and small producers alike and de-regulating things like raw milk. Smaller food producers and small farmers often like to mention that large food producers cause food-borne illness on a much wider scale and it is harder to track. These points are true, but overall, food-borne illness rates are remarkably low.
Even so, mistakes, negligence, and fraud all happen. No amount of regulation will take that fact away. Producers, if they make a mistake or commit fraud, should be held responsible for the food they produce. One of these means is through objective tort law. Consumers also need to be responsible. In 2009, one would expect various third party inspection organizations to eventually crop up in the absence of the FDA. (They already exist for organic certification, and the standards are more stringent than the USDA's. It should be noted that organizations like NOFA pre-date the USDA organic certification program.)
100 years of experience with the FDA's "food safety" regulations ought to be enough to convince Americans that more nannying by the FDA isn't the answer. We don't need more food safety regulations, irradiation mandates, food bans, and the like. Here are some results of flawed FDA and USDA policies. An Ayn Rand quote is apropo: "One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary."
If HR 2749 passes, there will be one sure result: reduced quantity and quality at your farmer's markets, local farms, and meat and veggie CSA as they become unable to cope with the costly regulatory burden. Eventually it would happen in the grocery store too. Let's not let it.
Labels: "Safety", Government Idiocy
|Saturday, June 27, 2009|
HR 2749, Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009
By Monica @ 3:22 PM
This just in from Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund
. This bill, HR 2749, is surreal. It would give the FDA far-reaching power to shut down food facilities and imposes large fines (from $100,000 for small producers to $7.5 million for corporations) and jail time. It could also affect small farms, backyard gardeners selling produce, and artisanal producers at farmer's markets by regulating the way they produce or grow their items.
This is truly unbelievable. Please take the time to read the FAQs below and take the appropriate action.
Also, please forward this to as many people as you can.ACTIONS TO TAKE
1. Call Your Representatives
Personal contact is an effective way to change hearts and minds. To find your representatives, use the finder tool at www.Congress.org or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. When contacting your representatives, use examples from the FAQs to explain your opposition to HR 2749.
2. Sign the Petition
HR 2749 has been moving quickly through Congress. If you have not already done so, please send a personal message to your legislators through the online petition "Oppose HR 2749" at www.farmtoconsumer.org/petitions_new.htm
3. Donate to the Fund
Help the Fund continue its valuable service - helping small farmers and protecting your access to quality food. www.farmtoconsumer.org/donate
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
HR 2749 - Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009
NOTE: Answers are based on the June 17 Waxman version that was accepted by voice vote of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Page references are noted per this version posted at
Q1: Does FDA have jurisdiction over INTRAstate commerce?
A1: As a federal agency, the FDA has jurisdiction over INTERstate commerce. For example, the prohibited acts regarding adulteration and misbranding in the current Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) all refer to INTERstate commerce. However, the existing law states that "in any action to enforce the requirements of [FFDCA] . . . the connection with INTERstate commerce required for jurisdiction in such action shall be presumed to exist." [1a] Combined with court decisions addressing the connection between INTRAstate and INTERstate commerce, it is unclear what kind of showing defendants would have to make to rebut the presumption and avoid federal regulation. The agency's regulatory power is limited to commerce, however, so non-commercial activities (such as growing your own vegetables for personal consumption) are not regulated.
Under current law, a business qualifying as a "food facility" must register with FDA, even if that business only engages in INTRAstate commerce. [1b] In addition, the agency can inspect the records of a business that engages solely in INTRAstate commerce if there is a "reasonable belief that an article of food is adulterated and presents a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals." [1c]
[1a] 21 USC 379(a)
[1b] 21 USC 350(d)
[1c] 21 USC 350(c)
Q2: Would HR 2749 expand the FDA's regulation of INTRAstate commerce?
A2: Yes. Under HR 2749, FDA's regulatory control over INTRAstate commerce would grow considerably. The bill would allow for inspections of firms whose business is strictly within a State. [2a] It would impose, among other requirements, a mandate for all firms in the food business to comply with national performance standards for various foods set by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). [2b] It would also require most firms in the food business to establish a traceback system for their products, even if those products never cross State lines. [2c]
[2a] Section 105(a)-pp. 42-43
[2b] Section 103(b)-pp. 36-37
[2c] Section 107(c)-p. 54
Q3: I have a garden and sell produce at a road-side stand on my property. Would HR 2749 apply to me?
A3: Yes, you would now have to follow federally-established standards for growing produce. [3a] Produce not grown as required by these standards would be considered as adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). [3b] Further, you would be required to make your business records available to FDA inspectors. [3c] The inspectors would have the power to show up unannounced without a warrant to search your records without any evidence whatsoever that you have committed a violation of the law. If you refuse to let the inspector see your records, you would be guilty of adulteration under FFDCA. [3d]
[3a] Section 104(b)-pp. 38-41
[3b] Section 104(a)-p. 38
[3c] Section 106(a)-p. 48
[3d] Section 207(a)-pp. 119-120
Q4: I sell produce from my garden at a local farmers market, under HR 2749 would I have to register as a "food facility" with FDA?
A4: Farms are exempt from the registration requirement under current law. [4a] HR 2749 would not eliminate this exemption. "Farm" is narrowly defined under current regulations [4b]; so, it is possible that many farms that have not registered in the past, could be required to do so if FDA has more resources at its disposal to enforce registration.
For example, a farm that sells vegetables straight from the garden (i.e., no processing) would not be a "food facility". If FDA strictly interprets the definition of "farm", a farm that sells canned vegetables at the market would be a "food facility" because canning is considered "processing" under the law. [4c] Under federal regulation, a farm that processes food would not be considered a "farm" for purposes of the registration requirement unless ALL of the processed food is consumed ON the farm. [4d]
Under HR 2749, those who sell vegetables from the garden at farmers markets would be required to follow federal standards for growing produce [4e]; and their business records would be subject to random warrantless searches by FDA inspectors even if the agency has no evidence of any violation of the law. [4f-see Q3/A3 above]
[4a] 21 USC 350d
[4b] 21 CFR 1.227(3)
[4c] 21 CFR 1.227(6)
[4d] 21 CFR 1.227(3)
[4e] Section 104(b)-pp. 38-41
[4f] Section 106(a)-p. 48
Q5: I own a bakery and sell my goods at a local farmers market, how would HR 2749 apply to me?
A5: HR 2749 would apply to you in the following ways:
1 - Your bakery would qualify as a "food facility" and you would need to register with FDA each year [5a] and pay an annual fee ($500 in 2010 [5b], and increasing in future years as indexed for inflation [5c]).
2 - You would have to register in electronic format. [5d]
3 - You would be required to have a unique facility identifier number. [5e]
4 - You would be required to conduct an analysis identifying potential hazards at your food facility; and you must implement controls to prevent those hazards from occurring as well as a plan for what to do in the event that any do occur. [5f]
5 - If your products cross state lines, you must develop a FOOD SAFETY PLAN. [5g-also see Q6/A6 below]
6 - You would also be required to establish and maintain a system for tracing the food you produce. It is uncertain at this point what this traceability system will require, but the requirements are likely to be extensive.
[5a] Section 101(b)-p. 6 [4b] Section 101(b)-p. 13
[5c] Section 101(c)-p. 14
[5d] Section 101(b)-p. 7
[5e] Section 206(a)-p. 118
[5f] Section 102(a)-p. 21
[5g] Section 102, sec 418A(a)-p. 28
[5h] Section 107(c)-p. 54-58
Q6: What will a FOOD SAFETY PLAN involve?
A6: Your FOOD SAFETY PLAN would have to include a hazard analysis that identifies potential hazards in your operation. The plan must also include descriptions of a variety of procedures you follow to prevent hazards from occurring and corrective actions to take if any does occur. In addition, you would need to describe your procedures for recordkeeping, conducting recalls, and traceback. Further, the plan must include how you ensure a "safe and secure food supply chain" for the items and ingredients you use as well as how you implement any science-based performance standards required by FDA. [6a]
[6a] Section 102, sec 418A(b)-pp. 29-30
Q7: I have read a summary of HR 2749 and am alarmed by the provision giving the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the power to quarantine any geographic area within the country. How broad is this power?
A7: Under HR 2749, the HHS Secretary would have the power to prohibit ALL MOVEMENT of ALL FOOD within a geographic area. No court order is needed to exercise this power. The Secretary only has to notify the appropriate official of the State(s) affected and issue a public announcement. [7a]
[7a] Section 133(b)-pp. 98-99
Q8: I am a raw milk consumer. Is it true that under HR 2749 would give FDA the power to institute a complete ban on the sale of raw milk?
A8: Yes, HR 2749 requires the HHS Secretary to issue "science-based performance standards . . . applicable to foods or food classes." The Secretary is to "identify the most significant foodborne contaminants and the most significant resulting hazards . . . and to minimize to an acceptable level, prevent or eliminate the occurrence of such hazards." [8a] FDA would have the power to make pasteurization of all raw milk a performance standard. Based on both its public statements and its record of taking enforcement actions against farmers, FDA is vehemently opposed to the consumption of raw milk and would like to ban its distribution.
Even if FDA does not issue a performance standard requiring pasteurization, the likelihood is that if HR 2749 passes into law, the agency will be increasing its enforcement actions against raw milk producers whose products cross state lines. FDA has indicated that raw milk is a priority item with the agency; with the passage of HR 2749, it would have much greater resources to go after raw milk than it did before. FDA could take enforcement action directly or through state agencies funded by FDA.
The way to stop this threat is to support HR 778, a bill that would, in effect, end the ban on raw milk for human consumption in interstate commerce. [8b] If you have not already done so, contact your Representative and Senators asking them to co-sponsor and/or vote for HR 778. You may send a message to them through the petition service by clicking on "Support HR 778 Now" at www.farmtoconsumer.org/petitions_new.htm
[8a] Section 103(b)-p. 37
[8b] 21 CFR 1240.61
Q9: I purchase products from an Amish producer who has said he would not register his facility because the electronic filing requirement violates his religious beliefs. What are the criminal and civil penalties he could be facing if he is charged with violating the law?
A9: Under HR 2749, failing to register a food facility would constitute "misbranding." [9a] If any of the "misbranded" products are introduced or "delivered for introduction into interstate commerce", the producer could be sentenced to up to ten years and be assessed criminal fines. [9b] Under HR 2749, anyone knowingly violating certain prohibitions contained in the FFDCA such as the prohibition against introducing adulterated or misbranded food in interstate commerce, could face these penalties.
In addition, the Amish producer could be facing substantial civil penalties. Under HR 2749, any individual who knowingly violates a provision of section 331 of FFDCA (prohibited acts) relating to food, can be fined up to $100,000; a corporation can be fined up to $7.5 million. [9c]
[9a] Section 101(a)-p. 6
[9b] Section 134-p. 100
[9c] Section 135(a)-p. 101
Q10: I'm a farmer who sells products direct to consumers. I want to protect the privacy of those who purchase from me and do not want to turn over to FDA any customer information I have in my records. What are the potential penalties if I refuse?
A10: Under HR 2749, FDA would have access to all records relating to the food producer's distribution of products. Failing to provide records to FDA would constitute adulteration. [10a] The criminal penalty for refusing access to records would be up to ten years imprisonment. [10b] The civil fines could be up to $100,000 for an individual and $7.5 million for a corporation. [10c]
[10a] Section 207(a)-pp. 119-120
[10b] Section 134-p. 100
[10c] Section 135(a)-p. 101
More HR 2749 information is posted through links at
Labels: Activism Opportunities, Government Idiocy
Science vs. Dogma
By Monica @ 9:15 AM
You’ve heard me say I don’t have any firm beliefs about climate change, though I’ve blogged a tad on the issue from time to time when it relates to evolutionary biology. I’ve learned firsthand the dangers of trusting conventional wisdom on matters of much import. (I’m speaking chiefly of nutrition where the conventional wisdom is mostly wrong and a lack of objectivity among researchers seems to abound.)
I’ll make a brief but somewhat rambling foray into “climate change” in this post. This is due to current events (Cap and Trade bill passing the House yesterday) and the fact that the USDA has already admitted that EPA regulation of CO2 would radically impact how agriculture would be conducted in the United States (see pages 67 and 68).
While I’m a big fan of pasture-based animal agriculture and think it’s a win-win-win-win situation for human health, animal welfare, pollution (not CO2), and economic benefits to farmers (Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed!), I’m not naïve enough to think that these are the types of changes the USDA would attempt to make in order to stem “climate change”. This is wholly apart from the question of whether that change is occurring, what its causes are if that is the case, and whether the USDA’s attempts at central planning would actually work (and I suspect they would not). This is simply not going to happen in the current political climate in the US, when politically connected Monsanto al. preen about "sustainability", the farmers who grow Monsanto’s crops receive literally billions in corporate welfare yearly, and environmental do-gooders everywhere exalt the benefits of a plant-based diet to reduce environmental impact and feed more people. Monsanto also gloats over a 10% reduction of methane by using rBST (a product it has now sold to another company) in feedlot cows when a 50% reduction is reported using pasture and the milk from pastured cows is more nutritious. There’s sustainability and there’s sustainability*.
Interestingly, New Zealand has a huge animal products market for the size of its country, and has pasture-based animal husbandry with very low costs of production. Guess what else New Zealand did last year? They halted their new climate change program. Of course, that’s not a scientific point and doesn’t prove anything about climate change either way. However, it’s worth considering that New Zealand is a pretty “green” country. The fact that they can step back and re-assess the value of a cap and trade scheme is worth noticing.
The fact that New Zealand, and now Australia, are questioning the wisdom of cap and trade schemes, has not been lost on the climate change alarmists, whose message gets shriller and shriller by the day -- nay, the hour. Practically 50% or more of the articles coming in through my Scientific American feed are about climate change. Some of the titles are truly absurd.
Then there’s this post from realclimate.org popped up in my Google Reader yesterday. It’s basically an attempt to dismiss an EPA document that raises the idea that the EPA’s position on climate science might be wrong. Click on over and check it out. (You might want to have a paper bag handy, though. It’s that nauseating.) So I got curious and clicked on Alan Carlin’s EPA document, which is linked in the realclimate.org post, to see whether Gavin Schmidt’s (of realclimate.org fame) allegations were true.
Besides the fact that I think Carlin makes some good points (I only skimmed this), the review of Carlin’s document at realclimate.org is very lacking in substance. Gavin Schmidt minimizes the impact that bloggers can have (one wonders if this also includes him?) and attempts to detract from the opinions of anyone who disagrees with him when they are not climate scientists. He also under-reports the amount of peer-reviewed research Carlin cites. While peer review does not necessarily mean anything important scientifically, Carlin cites at least 30 peer-reviewed papers, a heft minority of them published in Science.
Did Schmidt think no one would click the link to Carlin's document and read?
But here’s the main problem with Schmidt’s line of argumentation (besides the fact that it’s rude and condescending, which is an immediate turn-off). Generally, he mentions someone’s lack of climate science credentials as often as he possibly can. Interestingly, Gavin Schmidt leaves out the point that although Carlin is an economist, he is an environmental economist and has a degree in physics. Claiming that someone is unqualified to comment on climate science because he is a physicist is a bit like saying that someone is unqualified to comment on nutrition because he’s a biochemist. It’s ridiculous.
I don’t like the tactics of the APGW community. Argument from authority and ad hominem argumentation are simply not arguments. I’ve seen such comments all too many times in the field of nutrition. The comments line to this post is a good example.
If a person can’t debate a matter by referring to the facts of reality, cannot admit errors, and/or must instead defensively sling insults to persuade others, then I can come to no other conclusion than that person is intellectually dishonest. (Or they could just be ignorant – but this doesn’t apply when the person has staked their entire career on a particular stance.)
Ordinarily, none of this would matter much, but as fellow ecologist and evolutionary biologist Elisheva Levin explains, in this case the government is on the side of the global warming alarmists that think regulation and taxes are the answers to all of our problems:
These people in Congress are not benevolent. They live for a momentary gain, and do not consider the future of tax slavery and misery to which they condemn their own posterity. They are like lemmings running blindly over a cliff.
And it will not matter one iota in the vast reaches of planetary time. The climate cycles of the planet will continue to wax and wane in great temporal cycles. Species will come, and species will go. Earth abides.
The Feasibility of a Pastured Animal Production Model
Diet for an UNhealthy Planet
The Cow Tax and PeTA’s Dishonesty
More on Meat and Sustainability — and a Challenge to Environmentalists
Thoughts on the Environmental Effects of Carnivory and Veganism
Labels: Global Warming, Government Idiocy
|Friday, June 12, 2009|
Pollan Identifies Problems, Offers Wrong Solutions
By Guy Adamson @ 9:16 AM
Author Michael Pollan is interviewed by Newsweek around the upcoming film Food, Inc. Pollan does identify real problems in our food "system".
Gostin: Why is it so terrible that cows eat corn?
Pollan: Because it makes them sick when they eat it in large quantities. A little corn is not going to kill them, but when it's 80 to 90 percent of their diet, it deranges their metabolism. They are evolved to eat grass, that's what they're good at; when you put corn into that amazing organ called the rumen, it acidifies it and creates an environment where acid-loving bacteria such as E. coli 015787 are able to evolve. What's beautiful is a rumen has a very different ph than a human stomach; whatever bacteria live in the rumen would normally get killed by our stomach acids, but if you make the cow's digestive system more like ours, any bugs that evolve there will survive their transit to our stomach and go on to possibly make us sick. That's really the E. coli story, but there are other problems, too: To keep the animals healthy on that corn diet, you have to give them lots of antibiotics, they just wouldn't survive otherwise.
He even correctly identifies government intervention as the source of the problems:
It's not an accident that fast food is so cheap. This is what the government underwrites. Factory farming does not exist without subsidized corn, it doesn't exist without it being legal to give important human antibiotics to cattle, it doesn't exist without basically regulatory indulgence.
Unfortunately, his solution is shifting the regulation, not removing it.
If the government would put those kinds of resources into underwriting healthy and real food, whether that's grass-fed beef or organic produce, then the healthy calories could compete more effectively with the unhealthy calories.
The solution is a truly free market in agriculture so individual consumers can choose which foods they want and have the choice to eat healthy or not.
E-mail Guy Adamson
|Saturday, June 6, 2009|
Opposition to NAIS Remains Strong
By Monica @ 10:08 AM
The USDA has added NAIS listening sessions country-wide past the June 1 session in Loveland, CO. Opposition to NAIS at the original sessions was very strong. I presume they will be at the additional sessions as well (unless USDA has organized NAIS cronies to attend). You can leave your comments on NAIS on the USDA page if you wish.
The "consensus" on NAIS is rather clear. Independent farmers and ranchers do not support this program. It will literally destroy any semblance of a free market in farming that remains in this country. If the big producers with a large meat export interest want a traceability system for foreign standards, let them fund it privately and voluntarily, not place disproportionate costs on independent farmers through their thug-buddies, the USDA. Let them compete. That's called laissez-faire capitalism.
Additionally, there will a NAIS protest on June 9 in Missouri. Here is the press release:
Contact; Paul Hamby 816 632 0602
For immediate release
June 5, 2009
Jefferson City, Missouri.
Farmers, Ranchers and Consumers will hold a protest of the NAIS – National Animal ID System on Tuesday June 9 from 8 am to 12 noon. The protest will run concurrently with the USDA NAIS listening session at Truman Hotel & Conference Center in Jefferson City, Missouri. More than a dozen organizations have signed on in support of the peaceful protest and will have members attending to speak out against NAIS. The USDA has been pushing for mandatory NAIS, originally calling for mandatory in January of 2008 and with enforcements in January of 2009, but has delayed implementation due to huge public outcry against the program. USDA is now asking for public input on how to overcome objections to the program. Bob Parker, a southern Missouri farmer, has toured the state speaking out against NAIS, “The USDA does not want to accept that the people are against this program. They are asking how to make it more palatable. Our message to USDA is to end NAIS now.”
NAIS is a three phase program designed by the USDA and the Nat’l Institute for Animal Agriculture to advance guidelines for international trade through an agency of the World Trade Organization called the OIE. NAIS will tag and track movements of 33 species of animals worldwide. Phase 1 requires livestock owners to obtain a GPS linked Premise ID number for their property. Phase 2 requires all animals be identified with an international ID device. Phase 3 requires electronic reporting of movements on or off a premises to effectuate 48 hour trace-back to the premises of origin of any and every animal. Each phase is predicated upon the preceding phase. There can be no NAIS animal ID without a NAIS premises ID.
Opposition to NAIS is strongest from independent cattlemen, small farmers and hobbyists.
Doreen Hannes is a researcher, author and public speaker whose family has a small farm and raises much of their own food. She states, “The design of NAIS is effectively a license to farm. This program would cost us at least $4,000 the first year. There is no method for growers to recoup the cost of the program, and the implementation of NAIS will be the destruction of the family farm and rural America. The cost to freedom is simply immeasurable.”
“The Missouri Libertarian Party has worked with farmers and ranchers in Missouri for years to prevent implementation of the burdensome regulations of the National Animal Identification System being forced on them by the USDA”, Glenn Nielsen, Missouri Libertarian Party Chair.
Paul Hamby, NW Missouri coordinator for Campaign for Liberty, states “NAIS will put an undue burden on non-electric Amish farmers, small hobby farmers, 4-H and FFA members while providing no benefit to them. NAIS will not make our food supply safer. I am against this international livestock ID program run by the same federal government who just bought General Motors. “
The following organizations are sending members to Jefferson City to speak against NAIS on June 9.
R-CALF USA, Missouri Campaign for Liberty, Arkansas Animal Producers Association, International Dairy Goat Registry, Missouri Independent Consumers and Farmers Organization, Illinois Independent Consumers and Farmers Organization, Ozarks Property Rights Congress, Missouri First, Inc., Liberty Restoration Project, Legislators Against Real ID, Missouri Libertarian Party, Missouri Constitution Party, Missouri Rural Crises Center, Citizens for Private Property, Douglas County Citizens for Liberty.
For interviews or talk radio guests call,
Doreen Hannes 417 349 9625/417 962 0030
Bob Parker 417 257 8711
Ray Cunio 314 223 6925
Paul Hamby 816 632 0602
Updates and links to organizations listed above www.missouriansagainstnais.com
|Wednesday, May 27, 2009|
By Monica @ 10:10 PM
Did you know that the federal government applies fines to farmers that shift from growing commodity crops like soy, cotton, wheat, rice, and corn? Yes, you read right. Farmers across most of the United States literally can't decide what to plant on their own land without the threat of federal fines. Not only will the farmer forego subsidies for failing to plant a "commodity crop" on acreage that has traditionally been used for that purpose, he'll be fined hundreds of dollars per acre for growing fruits or vegetables instead. Read all about the forbidden fruits (and vegetables).
If that isn't outrageous enough, consider that our tax dollars are already subsidizing (and thus, cheapening) foods made of cornmeal, high fructose corn syrup, and vegetable oils like corn, soy, and cottonseed -- all with serious, known adverse health effects like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Type II diabetes, and coronary artery disease. Let me make it plainer. Your tax dollars have been cheapening items like Doritos, Pepsi, Twinkies, Crisco, and Wonderbread for almost 100 years now. Meanwhile, the federal government obstructs your access to cheap, local, fresh vegetables in summertime.
This is appalling. If I was prone to conspiratorial thinking, and if I didn't know better than to believe that conspiracies don't last 100 years, I'd be tempted to say that the USDA's true mission is to put the American populace underground in a big hurry.
Labels: Government Idiocy
|Wednesday, May 20, 2009|
Opposition to NAIS Dominates the Listening Sessions
By Monica @ 8:00 AM
An email update from the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance summarizes each of the National Animal Identification Listening Sessions that the USDA has been holding. It's extremely interesting:
Approximately 100 people attended the Pennsylvania meeting. At this first meeting, USDA spent significant time "selling" the program in the morning, and strictly limited people's opportunity to speak. Of the 36 people who did speak, 27 spoke strongly against NAIS, 5 were somewhat indecisive, and only 4 spoke in favor of the program.
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund provided the following report
from a farmer who attended: "The people who spoke in favor of NAIS were mostly from organizations like the Farm Bureau which has consistently supported NAIS. ... In my session the participants continued to speak out against the implementation of NAIS in any form, even as the facilitator kept trying to elicit comments about how the program could be improved."
Between 50 and 75 people attended the Washington state listening session, and the speakers were again overwhelmingly opposed to NAIS. "Only three spoke in favor of the program, a dairyman, a rep for an ear tag manufacturer, and the Washington State veterinarian, and even he sounded lukewarm towards the NAIS," reported Kathy and Bert Smith, FARFA and Liberty Ark members.
On the breakouts: "The general consensus was that even a voluntary NAIS is unacceptable. USDA officials were unwilling to answer any questions. Whenever a question was posed, the facilitator replied that they were just there to listen and gather input, not to answer questions. The facilitator kept reminding participants that the USDA was seeking solutions to make the NAIS workable. This group was hard pressed to come up with solutions. The general consensus was an overwhelming majority against NAIS and to do away with it completely. Most were not even willing to compromise with a voluntary program."
Approximately 150 people attended, including many FARFA members and people representing the Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, Liberty Ark, R-CALF, Livestock Marketing Association, and the Libertarian Party. There were small farmers, auction barn owners, horse owners, consumers, old ranchers, just-beginning farmers all speaking passionately against NAIS. Many of the speakers have been posted on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/somervellcountysalon
USDA attempted to start the day with a video of Vilsack, but had technical problems getting the recording to play! After that ironic beginning, 56 people spoke against any NAIS or advocated for a voluntary, market-driven program only. Only eight people spoke in favor of NAIS, almost entirely from the Texas Dairymen Association and Pork Producers. The afternoon sessions were also strongly anti-NAIS, with one session culminating in a blunt discussion of "how do we stop NAIS?" It was not a question on USDA's list, but it was definitely the one that most of the people there cared about!
FARFA Chapter leaders and Liberty Ark coordinators Susie Stretton, Rhonda Selser, and Margaret Stretton drove more than 450 miles from Louisiana to speak against NAIS at the Birmingham, Alabama meeting. They were joined by individuals not only from livestock organizations, but also from religious and property rights groups. Out of the crowd, 33 people asked to speak and 30 of them spoke against NAIS.
At the breakout sessions, all of the rooms were overwhelmingly anti-NAIS, just like the morning sessions. In one session, a woman claiming to represent the Tribes spoke at length about her qualifications and the cost-benefit analysis, only to be countered by the practical comments of the farmers in the room, who carried the NAIS documents and documented information with them. After participants spoke strongly against NAIS based on the cost, the lack of animal health benefits, and religious objections, the USDA facilitator stated that everyone was of "diverse opinions" and a consensus was impossible. A local farmer with the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund corrected him, pointing out that all but 2 people in the room were against NAIS. There was consensus at this meeting, although not the consensus that USDA was hoping for!
In Kentucky, about 150 people attended the session. Thirty-seven people spoke, with more than 90% speaking against a mandatory NAIS. Those who spoke against it were mostly individuals, speaking for themselves. Pro-NAIS speakers all represented organizations or their employers.
Wendell Berry gave a rousing speech declaring that this was the first meeting he'd been at with USDA, after decades of activism, where USDA brought armed police to protect itself. Ralph Packard, a natural livestock farmer, agreed with Wendell Berry, that the government will need its guns if they make the program mandatory and require people to register their farms and animals. Speakers came from Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio.
Break-out groups started early, but no consensus was possible. Some USDA personnel continued to insist that NAIS is voluntary, ignoring the coercion that USDA has funded, and state mandatory programs, also funded by USDA. One USDA staffer painstakingly stated that there are many tagging options and that microchips aren't required "at this time." When confronted that his comment meant this could change, he would not respond. It was obvious that pro-NAIS personnel were uncomfortable, but also did not come prepared to make concessions.
More promising were the connections made among anti-NAIS activists. The Community Farm Alliance held a press conference at noon. Adam Barr, Ralph Packard, Weldell Berry, and Karin Bergener spoke about why NAIS will wipe out small, independent farmers and the meetings still failed to truly provide farmers a forum because of the late notices, and timing during busy season.