« BACK  |  PRINT

RS

MEMBER DIARY

Agricultural Tyranny – The Food Czar

As the tentacles of the neoliberal agenda extend further into the most precious areas of our free society, small farms comprise part of the last remaining opposition to tyranny. If our country is to stay a free republic, we cannot place the right for families to grow food under the thumb of a government bureaucrat.

Earlier this year, H.R. 875, The Food Safety Modernization Act, was introduced by Democrat Rosa Delauro. It’s an onerous piece of legislation which requires farmers to file paperwork within hours of the birth of every animal under the penalty of up to $1 million for each violation.

Glenn Beck on HR 875

Unfortunately a similar bill, H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, introduced by John Dingell, passed the House this summer. The Senate bill, S. 425, the Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act, is still sitting in the Agriculture Committee.

Some of the disconcerting and dire provisions within the bill include:

  • HR 2749 will require the mandatory imposition of annual registration fees in the amount of $500 upon any “facility” that holds, processes, or manufactures food. Even though “farms” are exempt, the bill’s definition of “farm” is so scarcely defined that folks selling cheeses, breads, and other products from their farms or at the farmers market would be required to pay this fee, potentially driving many small producers and start-ups out of business, especially during tough times.
  • HR 2749 will give FDA the power to directly regulate the methods by which crops are raised and harvested, essentially handing complete and total control of every farming operation to the federal government.
  • HR 2749 will give FDA the power to halt the movement of all food in a particular geographic area in the event of a food contamination scare or outbreak. The provision directly includes “prohibiting or restricting the movement of food or of any vehicle being used or that has been used to transport or hold such food within the geographic area”, effectively shutting down any and all local food sources, farmers markets, or cooperatives within that area, even if their products have no connection to the actual contamination source.
  • HR 2749 will give limitless power to FDA to conduct random searches of the business records of small farmers and local food providers without a warrant or even the slightest hint of evidence that there has been any sort of violation. It essentially allows clear passage by the federal government into the private records of its choice with no requirement of probable cause or legitimate reason for doing so.
  • HR 2749 will appoint the Secretary of Health and Human Services as the taskmaster in establishing a food tracing system that will require an extensive, convoluted system of tracking each item and ingredient from origin to distribution. Because the bill fails to outline the logistical procedures for how this complex task will be accomplished and how it will be paid for, it once again hands an unprecedented amount of power over to the federal government to control and tax as it sees fit in order to accomplish whatever arbitrary requirements it wishes to inflict upon our farmers and food producers.
  • HR 2749 imposes grievous criminal and civil penalties, including fines of up to $100,000 for each violation, per individual, and up to 10 years in prison.

It is obvious from investigation that this bill presents incredibly ominous ramifications for small, local farmers, local food producers, and anyone else who grows or sells food. It favors industrial, factory food operators, who are the perpetrators of food contamination, at the expense of small providers who many have come to rely upon for safe and nutritious fare. The bill also shifts a monumental and unprecedented amount of power and control to the federal government to dominate everything from the produce in the grocery store to the peppers a backyard farmer sells to his neighbor.

The impetus with which this bill is making its way through the legislative gauntlet is alarming and calls for immediate action in stopping it dead in its tracks. FTCLDF is urging everyone to contact their representatives and ask to speak with the staffers who handle food issues. Each person should explain that he or she is aware of the bill and its implications and opposes it. Some FTCLDF talking points include, summarily:

  • The bill fails to target the true culprits of food contamination, primarily the industrial food system and food imports while unfairly burdening small and local food producers and providers.
  • Food safety would improve if the regulatory burdens on small farms and local food processors were decreased, not increased as this bill does.
  • The bill immensely increases FDA power while simultaneously decreasing the agency’s accountability for its actions.

Shelly Roche – The End of Small Farms

The enforcement of H.R. 2749 is left up to none other than the ‘Food Czar’. The individual appointed to that position, Michael Taylor, is responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history.

When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply — the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods — secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried “serious health hazards,” and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply.

…In May, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine concluded that animal studies have demonstrated a causal relationship between GM foods and infertility, accelerated aging, dysfunctional insulin regulation, changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system, and immune problems such as asthma, allergies, and inflammation.

…If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor.

Shelly Roche – ByteStyle.tv

Small farms may be put out of business by the overwhelming costs of meeting the new regulations.

When you speak with small producers such as Pascal Destandau, you have to wonder if the government is taking a sledgehammer to a porcelain cup. His Pugs Leap Farm in California’s Sonoma County produces goat cheese as well as vegetables, fruit, and nuts. It grosses in the neighborhood of $100,000 a year selling at farmers’ markets and to restaurants.

Under the legislation, food producers large and small will be required to “implement a food safety plan,” which is commonly understood to be a cumbersome process known as a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plan for each food product they sell. Destandau worked for many years in a large pharmaceutical and personal care company—and knows much about HACCP plans.

“Creating one plan would take me about 100 hours and maintaining it would [mean] two hours per day of production. Based on quotes I obtained in 2006 for laboratory testing, I estimate that I would need to budget $15,000/year just for the microbiological testing of the cheeses.”

That’s before the plans for the veggies, fruits, and nuts. He and his partner already each “work 75 to 80 hours a week. HACCP would add a few more hours to each day,” he says.

Simply ignoring the requirements and hoping regulators don’t notice would be a risky proposition. “The FDA can fine you $10,000 per infraction per day,” Destandau notes. Doreen Hannes, who with her husband runs a small farm in Mountain Grove, Mo., that derives about 40% of its income from rabbits it raises for meat and sells to a distributor in Arkansas, has similar worries. “We’re going to get killed by (H.R.) 2749,” she says. “We’d have more paperwork and less time to do our jobs.”

Farmers such as Destandau and Hannes strongly oppose the measure, which is also seen as a continued expansion of intrusive “Big Brother” government. Although H.R. 2749 has passed the House, a companion bill has not yet been voted on in the Senate (S. 425).

A number of small-farm supporters are strenuously objecting to the legislation. “Small farms and local food processors are part of the solution to food safety, yet H.R. 2749 takes a one-size-fits-all approach, subjecting local producers to the same regulations as industrial firms,” says Pete Kennedy, head of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

…What also upsets many small food producers is what Doreen Hannes refers to as “the Big Brother” aspects of the new legislation. For example, the FDA will have authority under the legislation to inspect the business records of food producers at any time, free of the current limitation that requires a reasonable belief that adulterated food is being sold. According to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, “FDA would now be empowered to go on a ‘fishing expedition’ and search records without any evidence whatsoever that there has been a violation.”

…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.

Get Alerts