Quick! Think of one word that best describes the relationship between feds and farmers.
I’ll give you a second.
Did you say, “subsidies?” If so, you might be surprised to learn that only five crops (corn, wheat, rice, cotton, soybeans) receive the majority of subsidies while the rest have flourished under a (soon-to-be obsolete) free market system.
This unsubsidized half of domestic agriculture will soon become the regulated half. For the first time since our country’s founding, growers of fruits, vegetables, and nuts will be told how to farm. And if the FDA finds them to be negligent in any number of areas (water, animals, employees, buildings, tools…imagine OSHA on crack), they have the authority to shut down the farm.
The scary thing is that the government, with these new powers, will have unprecedented control over our food production. This smells like Communism, not teen spirit. This smells of Hunger Games.
I’ve written a couple of times (here and here) about these massive proposed new regulations. They developed under the hard-to-argue-with mantra of “food safety.”
From 2007 – 2008 the Democratic controlled Congress authored 71 “food safety” bills aimed to control the unsubsidized, semi-regulated half of the domestic food supply. Contrast that with the 25 bills introduced the previous congress.
President Bush was in office in those years, however, so Leftist food safety advocates/activists didn’t see an enacted bill.
In 2009, President Obama devoted one of his first radio addresses to the topic of food safety and created a super-cabinet to figure out how to best regulate our food.
In 2009 and 2010, the Democratic-controlled Congress consolidated many of their preferred approaches into a bill that focused on foodborne illness prevention. Their bill created a blank check written out to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowing them to create standards that govern every farming practice from before the seed is planted through harvest.
Also in 2009 and 2010, the FDA was writing regulations that would do exactly what Congress intended to accomplish through legislation. The agency was clearly overstepping but didn’t seem to care. Weak kneed legislators actually used this as an excuse to pass a bill that would be, “better than what FDA wants to do.”
In November 2010, when Republicans took over the House, food safety was quickly passed and signed into law during the lame duck.
The law granted FDA authority to regulate “high risk commodities,” and to release proposed rules to the public for comment in one year. It was written in a year, and then sat at OMB for one more year to wait and see how the election would turn out.
The proposed rule was released on January 4, 2013. Instead of regulating a short list of high risk commodities, as the bill explains, the FDA decided to regulate growing and harvesting practices for all fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Playing nice, FDA has extended the deadline for public comment to November 15.
Michelle Obama and Healthy Foods
In 2009, FLOTUS Michelle Obama needed a cause. At the same time her husband was pursuing a whole-government solution to regulate farms, she was dictating what foods schools should serve, how to curb obesity, and even planting the People’s Garden just outside of the U.S. Department of Agriculture building on Independence Avenue.
Ironically, perhaps, the foods she was touting and planting were the same ones that were hoped to be regulated by the Obama Administration: fruits, vegetables and nuts.
More important than health care, more important than guns, more important than the Internet, without argument, is food. Government control over farmers, farms, and food has historically been used in deadly ways.
FDA has been given too much authority over our food. We need to fight back.
You can comment on the rule here: http://1.usa.gov/11J9gvU. Tell the FDA that American farmers’ bottom line is food safety, which has produced the safest food supply in the world.
We don’t need more regulations that will raise the cost of food for consumers, create a food bureaucracy and fund the FDA food police.