Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

Noems Fails to Land House Ag Cmte Seat

Posted: Saturday, December 18, 2010 at 6:48 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Someone please unspin this for me: Kristi Noem, soon to be South Dakota’s lone Representative in the U.S. House, for all her supposed pull with the new Republican majority, fails to land a seat on the House Agriculture Committee.

The Agriculture Committee is the one committee for which Noem has more experience than I do to serve as a useful member. She relentlessly touted her lifelong farm background on the campaign trail. Right after the election, Noem herself said landing a seat on the agriculture committee was among her top priorities:

Once in Washington, Noem says she hopes to serve on the agriculture committee.

“But then we’ll go on from there.  Maybe commerce; energy will be extremely important. We’ll see what we can do and we’ll be on the one that’s best for South Dakota,” Noem said [Shawn Neisteadt, “Noem Reflects on Campaign, Looks Forward,”, 2010.11.03].

Noem repeated later in November that she wanted an Ag seat, plus Energy and Commerce. She also mentioned Natural Resources.

Noem got little of what she wanted. She landed the Natural Resources Committee, which is apparently “less competitive to get a seat on” (i.e., Noem got the crap assignment), and the Labor and Education Committee, for which she as a non-college graduate from a union-busting state is singularly unqualified. And all Noem’s spokesflunky Joshua Shields can whimper in response to a direct question about the failure to get the ag nod is “there are several good committees Kristi considered. She is pleased with her assignments.”

My only hope is that she will use her position on Ed/Labor to put her Tea-Bag cred to work and kill No Child Left Behind. Why, oh why, do I keep hoping against hope that Republicans will display philosophical consistency?

Noem’s assignments are one more sign that the GOP leadership sees her as more valuable as a trick pony for their fundraisers and press appearances than as a strong voice for South Dakota interests. Maybe they noticed that she never did get around to posting a coherent ag policy on her campaign website. Or maybe even the GOP leadership couldn’t ignore Noem’s clear conflict of interest over making a living off farm subsidies and subsidized crop insurance.

Either way, South Dakota has just lost its only voice on the House Agriculture Committee, which shapes legislation on all manner of ag issues as well as on the rural electric systems and rural development.

Food for Thought

Posted: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 1:18 am
By: RadioActive Chief
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Pomegranate Market opens Wednesday with focus on local foods

One has to appreciate the optimism, hope, commitment, and enthusiasm it takes to open a new retail business.

A new grocery store is opening Wednesday in Sioux Falls’ southwest part of town that will focus on offering people as many locally grown products as possible.

The Pomegranate Market, located in the Beakon Centre at 57th Street and Louise Avenue, will be the newest addition to the health foods market in Sioux Falls….The store will have about 9,000 square feet of retail space offering all the things a supermarket has but on a smaller scale including a floral, dairy, produce and meat departments and a bistro with a seating area. In addition it has more than 200 bulk food items and spices.

“We want to be the experts in food,” said Brice Autry, one of the store’s owners.

This is a good thing…and the Chief wishes Brice Autry & company the best of luck….meanwhile, in another and possibly related item of food news:

Senate Passes Sweeping Law on Food Safety

The Senate passed a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s food safety system on Tuesday, after tainted eggs, peanut butter and spinach sickened thousands of people in the last few years and led major food makers to join consumer advocates in demanding stronger government oversight.

The legislation, which passed by a vote of 73 to 25, would greatly strengthen the Food and Drug Administration, an agency that in recent decades focused more on policing medical products than ensuring the safety of food. The bill is intended to keep unsafe foods from reaching markets and restaurants, where they can make people sick — a change from the current practice, which mainly involves cracking down after outbreaks occur.

This is also a good thing, right? I mean, who can be against safe food? Besides, this sort of thing isn’t really new…it represents an expansion and extension of the power of the FDA which first came into being as one of the “progressive” policies invented by Teddy Roosevelt…and we all know that progressive programs all work well, right?

Oh. Maybe not. In this case there are a few concerns given a hat tip even from The NY Times:

The legislation greatly increases the number of inspections of food processing plants that the F.D.A. must conduct, with an emphasis on foods that are considered most high risk — although figuring out which those are is an uncertain science. Until recently, peanut butter would not have made the list.

OK…we aren’t sure what’s risky…but we still will be able to reduce the (unknown) risk proactively. HUH? That’s science based? It’s not even LOGIC based!

Staunch opposition to the bill by Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, forced months of delay and eventually required the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, to call a series of time-consuming procedural votes to end debate. Mr. Coburn offered his own version of the legislation. It eliminated many of the bill’s requirements because he said that more government rules would be deleterious and that the free market was working.

In general…we really have a minimal amount of food problems in this country…although when they do occur the media are all over it like flies on a fertilizer pile. Of course, then if there is the perception of a bigger problem, then surely it calls for a bigger government to protect us, right?

Among the Senate bill’s last major sticking points was how it would affect small farmers and food producers. Some advocates for small farms and organic food producers said the legislation would destroy their industry under a mountain of paperwork. Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana, pushed for a recent addition to the bill that exempts producers with less than $500,000 in annual sales who sell most of their food locally.

That provision led the United Fresh Produce Association, a trade [big producer lobbying] group, to announce recently that it would oppose the legislation since small food operations have been the source of some food recalls in recent years.

We are disappointed that the Senate continues to ignore the egregious loopholes allowed in this legislation that will erode consumer confidence in our nation’s food safety system. Now, when going to a supermarket, restaurant, farmers market or roadside stand, consumers will be faced with the question of whether the fruits and vegetables offered for sale adhere to basic food safety standards or not.

To unpack this, what they are actually saying is that Ole Jensen, hauling a load of Forestbut melons to sell in the strip-mall parking lot (or wherever) has to have the same administrative load complete with lab-grade certification of quality as Dole, DelMonte, Cargill, Kraft, etc. Oh, Ole doesn’t have a legal/administrative department to keep up with that load? Oh well, I guess he’ll need to do something else with his land, and time….and the same thing would apply to those selling in a local farmer’s market, or to small specialty retailers like the above mentioned Pomegranate Market.

The House version of the bill does impose this extensive bureaucratic framework, although it is somewhat less obnoxious in the Senate bill, thus causing the unhappiness of the United Fresh group, who apparently would would love to use the regulatory regime to weed out local competition (up to including the eventual enforcement of FDA standards on backyard garden production, strictly for our own good of course.

Unfortunately, instead of adhering to a science- and risk-based approach that was consistently the foundation of the underlying bill, the Senate has chosen to include a provision that will exempt certain segments of the food industry based on the size of operation, geographic location and customer base.

As far as the science is concerned, as noted above, the reasoning here is missing in action. Again, they want NO exception for small local producers…trusting in the wisdom of the bureaucracy to do the right thing…and not co-incidentally eliminate a competing consumer choice.

Frankly, the Chief has more faith in Ole Jensen, and in the local suppliers of Brice’s Pomegranate Market than in some major member of United Fresh bringing in produce from Mexico, Honduras, or somewhere else, where there REALLY are some grounds for concern about food production and quality standards.

Subsidy Queen Noem Thinks We All Get $3M from DC

Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 7:12 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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In an interview with the Rapid City Journal a couple weeks ago, South Dakota’s GOP candidate for U.S. House Kristi Noem addressed the question of her family’s huge reliance on federal farm subsidies. Says Noem:

What our family has done is participate in the farm programs. And so the farm programs I think essentially almost every farmer in South Dakota has participated in those, and they haven’t been bailouts they have been programs that the United States has put forward for farmers to participate in.

It’s all about national security, so we don’t have to depend on other countries for food. Fear, everyone. Fear.

Noem says every farmer and rancher would prefer more risk management programs to direct payments, a position she’s taken in other discussions like the State Fair debate.

Noem concludes by claiming, “We’ve done what every other farmer and rancher has done by participating in those [programs].”

Actually, no, Kristi. You haven’t done what every other farmer and rancher has done. As the invaluable Environmental Working Group notes, the vast majority of farmers get little benefit from farm subsidy programs. 26% of South Dakota farmers get no subsidies. 10% of South Dakota farmers claim 61% of the subsidies sent to our state. The bottom 80% have collected an average of $1,334 per year since 1995. The top 10% have collected an average of $35,077 per year since 1995.

Your family, Kristi, has taken over three million dollars in subsidies over the last 15 years. That’s $200,000 per year. That’s more federal handouts than all but 17 other farm operations in the entire state have taken over the same period. Three million dollars is six times the amount I’ve earned in paychecks since 1995.

On farm subsidies, Kristi Noem again demonstrates her inability to square the anti-government, free-market principles she spouts for her Tea Party supporters with her family’s dependence on federal handouts for fiscal viability.

Guest Column: ND Farm Owed Million by Veblen Dairy

Posted: Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 3:30 pm
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Below is a letter to the editor from Sandra Banish, a North Dakota farm wife who says her farm is owed over a million dollars by the bankrupt Veblen East Dairy. She says the dairy debacle wrought by Prairie Ridge Management’s failure to keep its dairies in the black has devastated not just her family finances but the entire local economy. Thee text also appears in the September 1, 2010, print edition of the Marshall County Journal.

My Dairy Diary
by Sandra Banish

I am JAFW. (Just a Farm Wife) My husband and I farm in the southeastern part of North Dakota. In the spring of 2008, we grew 1,000 acres of corn. The corn that was grown on our farm was contracted for silage chopping with Veblen East Dairy, Veblen, South Dakota.

I started to get worried when my husband and I did not hear form Veblen East Dairy about payment in December, 2008. The dairy in Veblen, South Dakota chopped our corn for silage in the fall of 2008. Richard Millner from Prairie Ridge Management, Veblen, South Dakota was the individual we made the contracts with, which included a contract for 2008 silage corn which included a late-fee agreement, 2009 corn silage agreement/contract and an oral agreement/ contract for receiving shelled corn from us. This management company manages many dairies including Veblen East Dairy.

In December 2008, my husband spoke with Mr. Millner and it sounded like times were tough to get some form of payment. My husband had emailed Rick Millner several times and I started to email Mr. Millner. We received very few replies.

Now it was January 2009, I sent a reminder that for the contract I signed, partial payment was due.

From January 29 thru February 2, I wrote several emails wondering where the payment was. I received very few responses. The responses came in the form of emails and a few phone calls from Prairie Ridge Management Company. The responses were just comments on how hard Rick Millner was working on the money that was owed to us.

On February 2, 2009 until October 9, 2009, I sent many emails and made numerous calls after calls. I received very few responses. Finally we received a partial payment for the 2008 silage. There was still a large amount that was owed to us by the dairy. There were the other agreements/contracts that never were addressed. This debt was growing every day due to the late fee in the contract.

Finally on Jan 20, 2010, we contacted an attorney.

We had papers served on the dairy on March 1, 2010.

On March 5, 2010 a receiver from AG Star was appointed to the dairy.

Chapter 11 was filed in July 2010 on Veblen East Dairy; we cannot collect the money that is owed to us because of the bankruptcy protection law.

Now it is August 2010, and the corn is maturing in the field. It is silage chopping time.

No money. Promissory note is due in on Sept. 01, 2010. We cannot collect due to the Bankruptcy Protection Law.

Rumors have it that the dairy may get sold. Then there goes my money.

With the late fee contract, shelled corn that was sold, the promissory note and all the other financial agreements/contracts, the debt that is owed to us is over 1 million dollars.

While looking at the creditor’s list from the South Dakota Bankruptcy Court, it looks like over 300 creditors are listed. The dairy owes many vendors and growers. It looked like we weren’t the only ones that got caught in this web of deception.
The debt is over 60 million dollars.

As a farmer, my husband works hard and grew a product. We had signed contracts. We kept in touch with the dairy. We did everything we could think of to protect us financially except one thing. We should have never done business with the dairy.

We will never do business with the dairy until they make this right with us. I am asking all creditors that have done business with the dairy and that is owed money, stop all transactions with the dairy until you get your account settled.

We have to make a stand.

I believe the way Mr. Richard (Rick) Eugene Millner managed funds from the dairy is in question.

When I got into yelling matches with Mr. Millner., he would always tell me. Sandy, don’t take this to the personal level, I am taking this whole mess very personal. Wouldn’t you?

This dairy has been struggling for a long time. Ag Star Financial Services granted loans last fall (2009) to Veblen East Dairy. I do not understand how Veblen East Dairy could get a loan from Ag Star Financial Services and in 6 months, Ag Star is questioning the loan with a receivership.

Many growers including myself are owed a large sum of money. At this time, I believe an investigation should be done on this situation.

This crumbling situation is causing an economical disaster in the community and the surrounding community. It has caused hardship which includes everyone from the local store owner, to the grower who grows the corn for feed. For every dollar that was taken away from the local community and put into the hands of an attorney who has no ties to this area, is a dollar that is gone from the community. That dollar will not circulate and be spent at the local store or given to a local charity. Veblen South Dakota and its surrounding communities have lost money that should have been theirs.

In reality, Ag Star and the dairies in Veblen, South Dakota are not very popular around here and the money that is being paid to all the attorneys on both sides is very disheartening to the ones who are owed money.

My husband and I grew a product and worked hard for it and now we are owed a large amount of money. This does not sit right with me. The only thing at this time I can do is to inform anybody who wants to listen, what a mess this situation has become.

I am spear heading a campaign of “JUST SAY NO TO MOO”. No selling of corn in any shape or form to the dairy without a settlement of all past debts that are owed and full payment of the new crop. All payments must be in the form of a wire transfer. No form of Escrows. All payment must made and be secured before any choppers enter fields.

May this situation resolve quickly and our community heal without any lasting injuries. Feel free to contact me through email with any comments or questions.

Sandra Banish
Cayuga North Dakota
wifefarm at yahoo dot com

Pay Back Verasun? SD Corn Growers Think Not

Posted: Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 7:21 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Remember last April when Valero bought bankrupt ethanol producer Verasun and then reneged on contracts with local farmers?

It gets worse. Now the New York lawyers tying up Verasun’s bankruptcy are telling farmers who did business with Verasun right before it went belly up to pony up. If you did business with Verasun ninety days before their bankruptcy, the lawyers want you to pay that money back.

Verasun filed for bankruptcy on Halloween, 2008. That means the lawyers want farmers to cough up cash they got from Verasun a far back as August 3, 2008. Quick check: how many of you readers still have cash on hand from transactions from summer 2008? How many of you would have $50,000 handy to hand back to a bankrupt entity, as one Minnesota farmer is being asked to do?

The South Dakota Corn Growers Association is understandably torqued at this “bankruptcy preference claim.” They are urging farmers to fight back… as am I. You did business with Verasun, you got paid for your product or service, that money’s yours.

But it’s not entirely that cut and dried. The idea behind “preference claims,” says Iowa State University ag law expert Roger McEowen, is fairness. For every farmer or contractor whom Verasun managed to pay in the run-up to bankruptcy, there might be another entity who delivered a good or service to Verasun on, say, October 15, who didn’t get a check before Verasun called it quits. Instead of seeing some business partners made whole and others wholly hosed, preference claims seek to spread out the hosing to everyone unlucky enough to deal with Verasun.

Still, possession is nine-tenths of the law. If Verasun paid you and didn’t pay someone else, you’re still entitled to fight for your cash. Consult SDCGA’s resource page, consult your local lawyer, and tell the Verasun vultures to buzz off.

By the way, Verasun’s purchaser Valero is profitable again after a rough 2009. Maybe the stiffed creditors and New York lawyers should be turning to the parent company for restitution first.

SHS Wrong on Monsanto Alfalfa. Et Tu, Noem?

Posted: Monday, August 23, 2010 at 8:15 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Sure, I’ll let the right-wing occasionally drive my blog coverage. Dakota War College tries to stir up some anti-Herseth Sandlin grumbling among Democrats by pointing out the Congresswoman’s wrong-headed support for Monsanto’s effort to seize control of the alfalfa market.

On this issue, Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin and 74 colleagues are clearly smoking ditchweed. Their July 19 letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack urges USDA to permit the use of genetically modified Roundup-Ready alfalfa “while the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service completes its final Environmental Impact Study.” Wait a minute: use it while the government completes the impact study? What?! Aren’t we supposed to study the environmental impact before we turn these seeds loose on the environment?

Dakota War College, of course, doesn’t really want anyone to stand against Monsanto. DWC surely isn’t standing up for the organic farmers whose crops are threatened by genetic contamination from neighboring Monsanto crops. DWC never says boo about the public university in its backyard being controlled by a Monsanto employee; when South Dakotans protest the corruption of independent public research such corporate infiltration could cause, DWC makes fun of the South Dakotans. DWC will never stand up for the small farmers Monsanto is trying to put out of business with lawyers, lawsuits, and gross intimidation. DWC will never protest Monsanto’s efforts to deny that the Agent Orange it produced ever harmed American soldiers or Vietnamese children.

And DWC most certainly does not care about the dangers Pat Trask points out about Monsanto’s genetically modified alfala:

The genetically modified forage has the potential to destroy the certified organic and conventional alfalfa industry because it will genetically contaminate and alter those crops, according to Trask.

…When the USDA deregulated Roundup Ready alfalfa, [Oregon alfalfa seed producer Phil] Geertson warned Trask that if its planting and production were not stopped, the production of conventional alfalfa seed industry and organic industry would be gone immediately and permanently.

Unlike other Roundup Ready crops, Roundup Ready alfalfa is a perennial plant that emerges every year. In addition, alfalfa relies on cross-pollination usually by bees or the wind to produce seed. Preventing the cross-pollination of Roundup Ready alfalfa with other alfalfa varieties is not realistic, according to Trask.

“Containment of gene flow is virtually impossible,” Trask said [Andrea Cook, “Frankenfood fight: Alfalfa grower opposes genetically engineered crop,” Rapid City Journal, 2010.08.11].

(I have yet to meet a Trask I don’t like.)

Trask understands that Monsanto’s GM alfalfa is just another effort to monopolize the seed market for Big Ag. It will work just like other crops: farmers plant a little Monsanto alfala; it corss-pollinates with neighboring fields growing non-Monsanto alfalfa; then Monsanto sends in the lawyers to sue the pants off neighboring farmers for violating Monsanto’s genetic patents—in other words, for committing the crime of growing plants without paying Monsanto for the privilege.

Another important point Herseth Sandlin misses: Monsanto’s GM seed is bad for small farms. Farmers who want to protect themselves from genetic contamination and Monsanto’s lawyer-goons will have to buy more land to insulate themselves from the GM fields. That’s one more pressure that drives small farmers out of business. Gee, thanks, Stephanie.

DWC does at least provide some comment space for occasionally sensible folks like rancher and legislator Charlie Hoffman, who points out that Monsanto’s alfalfa is just plain a bad buy: natural alfalfa can already withstand a fair amount of Roundup, so why incur the extra legal obligations of using Monsanto’s product?

DWC carefully avoids comment on the actual issue of corporate domination of agriculture, but I won’t: Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin is wrong to support Monsanto and genetically modified alfalfa that has not yet been properly assessed for environmental impact. And unlike DWC, if anyone can show me that the candidate from the other party is willing to take the right position on this issue, I will shout it from the rooftops. Candidate Noem, I await your press release on your opposition to authorizing the use of Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready alfalfa.
Bonus head count: Signal #1 that Herseth Sandlin is on the wrong side of the alfalfa issue: the 75 Congresspeople urging Vilsack to permit Monsanto’s alfalfa include teabaggers Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Their thin letter is all about business costs.

An opposing letter from 56 Congresspeople, including Senator Tester from Montana, Senator Feingold from Wisconsin, and Representative Kucinich from Ohio, makes a much more detailed argument about the scientific evidence that shows huge potential for genetic contamination (exactly what Monsanto wants) and harm to small and organic farms.

Stickin’ It to Wall Street…or Main Street?

Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 11:33 am
By: RadioActive Chief
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…send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

– John Donne

Finance Overhaul Casts Long Shadow on the Plains

So…you think that the recently passed financial reform bill is going to righteously stick it to those high-rollin’ Wall Street finance dudes? Not likely.

The impact may hit a lot closer to home than you might have thought:

Farmer Jim Kreutz uses derivatives to soften the blow should the price of feed corn drop before harvest. His brother-in-law, feedlot owner Jon Reeson, turns to them to hedge the price of his steer. The local farmers’ co-op uses derivatives to finance fixed-price diesel for truckers who carry cattle to slaughter. And the packing plant employs derivatives to stabilize costs from natural gas to foreign currencies.

Far from Wall Street, President Barack Obama’s financial regulatory overhaul, which may pass Congress as early as Thursday, will leave tracks across the wide-open landscape of American industry.

Designed to fix problems that helped cause the financial crisis, the bill will touch storefront check cashiers, city governments, small manufacturers, home buyers and credit bureaus, attesting to the sweeping nature of the legislation, the broadest revamp of finance rules since the 1930s.

Historically, the more that government gets involved in the market, the worse things get. (Remember, most of the the alleged negative effects of the free market are really the product of business and/or regulatory arrangements that have hindered the free market’s operation.)

I get a bad feeling about this one.

Montrose Boosts Local Foods Renaissance

Posted: Monday, June 28, 2010 at 8:25 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Regional neighbor Joe Bartmann sees hope for his hometown of Montrose and similar small burgs in feeding the world. No, not that nutty industrial monoculture model where corporate drones in giant machines produce government-subsidized commodities to load unto ships, ship overseas, glut foreign markets, and drive their independent local farmers off the land just like ours. Bartmann sees his Montrose neighbors producing real food for real people right here in South Dakota. On a trip to the Montrose suburbs, Bartmann finds goose, veggies, beef, and honey produced in his immediate neighborhood.

Maybe we can be the Hardwick, VT of South Dakota one day (read “How Food Saved a Town“). Local Foods is the real deal (just ask Mike), and it’s a serious opportunity for us in small towns–to feed surrounding communities, to live healthier lives, and to re-connect with this land and it’s [sic] bounty in new-old sacred ways [Joe Bartmann, “Montrose, South Dakota: Local Foods Mecca,” bartblog, 2010.06.27].

The strongest, most lasting economic development we can generate is business owned and operated by local people, using locally available resources to produce locally consumable goods and services. Local foods don’t require expensive government subsidies to attract fickle investors who have no interest in South Dakota beyond the hope of exploiting our tax and labor laws and inflating their profits. Local foods don’t depend on far-flung buyers and suppliers. Local foods keep the dollar cycle entirely in South Dakota.

And best of all, local foods make more local families and producers the captains of their own destiny, making their living on the land they love.

Weiland Urges Farm Bill Reform

Posted: Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 7:21 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Folks on both sides of the aisle tell me Dr. Kevin Weiland would have gotten creamed if he had run for Congress and folks brought up his stance against our current farm subsidy program. I say, so what?! You run on principle, and maybe you get beat 90–10 the first time. You run again, get it down to 80–20, then 70–30… and pretty soon, the majority gets what you’re talking about!

But hey, Dr. Weiland isn’t running for anything, so he’s free to start the conversation about why our current “fat farm bill” is unhealthy for America right now:

We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on farm subsidies since 1996 with almost 80 percent going to the production of four major groups: food grains, feed grains, oilseeds and cotton. The food industry has profited by the mere fact that it is relatively inexpensive to fatten cattle with government-subsidized grain and to buy cheap industrial food additives such as flour, corn starch, corn syrup and soybean oil for its products.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service Food Review, Volume 25, Issue 3, “nutritious foods have increased in price by nearly 38 percent” while the price of high-calorie items such as soft drinks has decreased by 25 percent since the inception of the Freedom to Farm Act in 1996. The price for this cheap food comes at the expense of our health, however.

We have more than 33 million people in the United States alone with the type of diabetes seen in people who are overweight. Additionally, our government health agencies are concerned about the epidemic of childhood obesity [Dr. Kevin J. Weiland, “Federal Farm Subsidies Fattening America,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2010.05.14].

Fattening America? Well, Kristi Noem doesn’t look much worse for wear….

Blue Dogs like Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota continue to defend the status quo, where the focus of the farm bill is on propping up corporate farms rather than feeding Americans good food. But like it or not, our farm policy supports crappy food and crappy health outcomes. Even anti-government Republicans like Senator John Thune disguise corporate welfare as a “farm safety net” that favors the wrong crops and makes neither economic nor environmental sense.

Dr. Weiland is right: we need a broader conversation about farm policy. Farm policy shouldn’t be just about production and profit any more than energy policy should be. Farm policy should involve all stakeholders: farmers, eaters, doctors, and everyone else affected by the externalities of unhealthy industrial agriculture.

FDA: Food Nazis at Work?

Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 11:08 pm
By: RadioActive Chief
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Here’s everybody’s favorite big government showing some of its true colors again.

Raw milk battle reveals FDA abandonment of basic human right to choose your food

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), an organization whose mission includes “defending the rights and broadening the freedoms of family farms and protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient dense foods”, recently filed a lawsuit against the FDA for its ban on interstate sales of raw milk. The suit alleges that such a restriction is a direct violation of the United States Constitution. Nevertheless, the suit led to a surprisingly cold response from the FDA about its views on food freedom (and freedoms in general).

In a dismissal notice issued to the Iowa District Court where the suit was filed, the FDA officially made public its views on health and food freedom.

Some of the statements in the FDA’s filing are absolutely amazing. Can you say “food NAZI”?

The FDA essentially believes that nobody has the right to choose what to eat or drink. You are only “allowed” to eat or drink what the FDA gives you permission to. There is no inherent right or God-given right to consume any foods from nature without the FDA’s consent.

This is no exaggeration. It’s exactly what the FDA said in its own words.

Don’t take MY word for it, or even the words from the posting about this. Consider the following statements taken from the FDA’s court filing:

“There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.” [p. 26]“Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.” [p.26]

There’s a lot more in the document, which primarily addresses the raw milk issue, but these statements alone clearly reveal how the FDA views the concept of health freedom. Essentially, the FDA does not believe in health freedom at all. It believes that it is the only entity granted the authority to decide for you what you are able to eat and drink.

The State, in other words, may override your food decisions and deny you free access to the foods and beverages you wish to consume. And the State may do this for completely unscientific reasons — even just political reasons — all at their whim…

This has all emerged from the debate over whether raw milk sales should be legal. But the commonsense answer seems obvious: Of course raw milk should be legal! Since when did the government have any right to criminalize a farmer milking his cow and selling the raw, unpasteurized milk to his neighbor at a mutually-agreeable price?

NOTE: The principles apply whether or not one chooses to partake of raw milk, any particular food product.

But why is the FDA hell-bent on stopping raw milk from being sold in the first place? Think about it: What is it about this particular whole food that has regulators working overtime to make sure you don’t drink it?

Follow the money…(surprise, surprise, surprise!)

The real reason why the FDA opposes raw milk is because Big Dairy opposes raw milk. Just like Big Pharma, Big Dairy has worked very hard behind the scenes to steer FDA policy in its favor. And according to some recent reports, Big Dairy is one of the primary forces trying to eliminate raw milk because it threatens the commercial milk business.

What’s next? Will all farmer’s markets be outlawed because the veggies haven’t all been irradiated or pasteurized?

As usual, it’s all about the money, and as you follow the money trail all the way up to the federal level, you find the same thing happening everywhere: At the FDA, USDA, FTC and so on. U.S. government regulators have become monopoly market enforcers for Big Business, and they won’t let anything get in their way… not even personal health freedoms or just basic access to food.

There is a lot more detailed argument in the posting; you get the picture…but wait! As a finale the FDA outdoes itself again:
On page 27 of the dismissal, the FDA also states that Americans do not have a fundamental right to enter into private contractual agreements with one another, either.

Buying clubs, cooperatives and community supported agriculture programs (CSAs) all rely on private contractual agreements in order to operate. People contract with each other to obtain clean, healthy food from the sources of their choice without government intrusion. But now the FDA is saying that people don’t actually have this right. To enter into such a private contract to purchase food, milk or even water is a violation of federal law, the FDA now claims.

You are just a subject of the King, you see, and you have no rights. You must eat and drink what you are told. You must behave in a way that is allowed by your King. You have no rights, no protections and no freedoms….

The “substantive due process” clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, however, assures people of this right when it states that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.” And being able to make personal food choices without having to obtain permission from Big Brother is definitely included under this clause.

But the FDA — aw, heck, all of Washington for that matter — doesn’t honor the U.S. Constitution in any way, shape or form. The document is little more than a tattered piece of American history according to the Nazi nut jobs running federal agencies today. They are no more likely to respect the Constitution as they are to leap from their desk job chairs and magically transform into flying elephants.

The hits just keeps on coming! (Or are the letters of the second word in the previous sentence in the wrong order? Whatever!)