Browsing Posts tagged constitution

Whose Country Is This?

by Lee Pitts

Lee Pitts is the Executive Editor of the Livestock Market Digest. His internationally syndicated columns and nine best selling books combine unflinching political commentary, humor, and serious livestock coverage with commentary blessed by a life time of experience. No one argues with Lee about the cattle business because he has been in the corrals and has scrapped a lot of "Stuff" off his boots many times. That is what it takes to gain authority, and he has.

There’s just something particularly galling about a secretive international tribunal telling a country, any country, what it can and cannot do. That’s especially true when a controversial trade organization tells us that we cannot inform the American consumer where her food came from.

According to every survey we’ve seen the vast majority of American consumers want labels on their food informing them of its origin. Some survey indicated that as many as 90 percent of American consumers want such country of origin (COOL) labels. Additionally, every survey we’ve ever seen indicates that the vast majority American ranchers also want the beef they raise to be labeled as being produced in the good old U.S. of A. So when American grocers finally began putting COOL labels on cuts of beef, lamb, chicken, pork, and hamburger it seems everyone got what they wanted. Everyone that is except the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the beef packer’s lobby, the National Pork Producers and an organization that most Americans know little about, the World Trade Organization.

Unfortunately for the ranchers and consumers it is this latter group, the WTO, who will decide whether or not American consumers and ranchers will get their wish to have the meat they produce and consume labeled as to country of origin.

How and why we in America ever gave an organization located in Geneva, Switzerland, the right to tell us what we can and cannot do is a dirty little secret being kept by supposedly patriotic American politicians, lobbyists and multinational American-based corporations who don’t want you to know any more about them than they do the food you eat.

I Pledge Allegiance To The WTO

Opponents of country-of-origin-labeling say it is nothing more than a protectionist trade measure that we are using to discourage imports. And these critics might have a point if all the food in the world was the same and was produced under the same rigid health and environmental standards. But clearly it is not. As proof we offer up milk from China that was contaminated with melamine, European and Canadian mad cows, four legged Mexican TB carriers and South American bovines with Foot and Mouth disease.

We’d like to point out amidst all the brouhaha that country of origin labeling does not stop one single animal from entering this country, nor does it prevent any country from selling us beef. Of these facts there can be no debate. What COOL does do is give the American consumer the ability to find out where the food she feeds her family came from. The decision on whether or not to buy foreign or domestic beef lies solely with her, not some bureaucrats at a meeting in Cancun. That’s why we were devastated after years of watching COOL work its way through the bureaucratic and political morass that after it was finally put in place the WTO said last November that it was illegal. Not according to American laws, but according to theirs.

I don’t remember the founding fathers ever mentioning the WTO, do you? I can’t find it anywhere in the Constitution or The Bill of Rights, nor do I recall ever getting a chance to vote on its leaders, or having a say in its proceedings. I can find no evidence that any of our founding fathers were members in good standing of the WTO.

Such is the sad state of American politics these days that we held out little hope that anyone in our government would challenge the WTO’s COOL ruling, so we were surprised and pleased when the office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that it was appealing the WTO ruling against the U.S. mandatory COOL law.

One Family’s Food Fight

After COOL was put in place as a result of provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill, Canada then requested consultations with U.S. trade representatives in December of 2008 concerning their objections to it. Canada alleged at the time that the mandatory COOL was inconsistent with the United States’ obligations under the WTO Agreement.

Shortly thereafter, Mexico and Nicaragua announced they had problems with COOL, too, and requested to join the consultations. Then on November 19, 2009, a three-person WTO panel was formed and eventually came to the conclusion that yes, Canada and Mexico were right and that we had no right to implement COOL in the first place. The WTO panel determined that the COOL measure “is a technical regulation and that it is inconsistent with the United States’ WTO obligations.” In particular, the panel found that as a result of COOL we gave less favorable treatment to imported Canadian and Mexican cattle and hogs than to like domestic products.

By the words “less favorable treatment” we can only assume that the WTO meant that because American consumers would theoretically prefer domestic product over a foreign one, that COOL created a premium for U.S. beef and pork and a discount for Canadian and Mexican meat. Which, if you’ll recall, was the exact point made by COOL supporters to begin with. And the premiums recently being given to age and sourced domestic cattle seem to back that up, after all, those premiums are not all the result of our export market. Those cattle aren’t all being sold to Japan and Korea.

The WTO was created in the first place by one-worlders who think there should be no geopolitical boundaries and that we are all just one big happy family. To hear them tell it, all this fuss over COOL is just a food fight amongst family members.

A party can appeal a WTO panel’s ruling and due to the marriage of big business and government these days in Washington, we had little hope of that happening when it came to COOL. But on the last day an appeal could be filed came word of one. Now comes a two to three-month WTO process where yet another panel will meet behind closed doors to consider the appeal. (WTO appeals have to be based on points of law, such as legal interpretation — they cannot reopen factual findings made by the panel.)

As a result of the appeal we found out that the WTO never said in the first place that the U.S. does not have the right under WTO rules to adopt mandatory COOL. No, what the three-person panel didn’t like was the way COOL “provided less favorable treatment to Canadian and Mexican livestock producers.” They also did not like that “the COOL statute is more trade restrictive than necessary.” In other words, they did not like the fact that lo and behold, American consumers did actually prefer American beef and pork over imported beef.

Whose Side Are They On?

As to be expected from an organization that seems to be more interested in looking out for the interests of big packers than they do American ranchers, the NCBA quickly expressed their disappointment that the U.S. would even dare to file an appeal. “We are very disappointed in this decision,” said NCBA vice president Bob McCann. “Instead of working diligently to bring the United States into WTO compliance, our government has opted to engage in an appeal process, which jeopardizes our strong trade relationship with Canada and Mexico, the two largest importers of U.S. beef, An appeal is the wrong answer and a waste of valuable resources, This appeal will do nothing but escalate tension with our valuable trade partners and will prolong an issue that could be resolved quickly. We should be working toward a solution instead of creating a bigger problem.

“NCBA will engage with Canada and Mexico in order to prevent any retaliatory action that could occur from this unfortunate decision made by the U.S. government.”

Concluded NCBA’s McCann, “Cattlemen deserve a government that fights for and protects our opportunities. We need a government that not only demands WTO compliance of our trade partners but one that ensures the United States is abiding by these same guidelines.”

That bears repeating; in the words of the NCBA, what we need is a government that “demands WTO compliance.” One would think from such statements that the NCBA was getting its funding from the governments and stock raiser’s groups in Canada and Mexico, rather than the $50 million it gets each year from Beef Checkoff, funds paid overwhelmingly by American ranchers. (That 50 million dollars represents 80 percent of NCBA’s total revenue.) It should also be noted that the packers in the U.S. want their cheap imports to still be marked with a USDA inspection label to fool customers into thinking it’s a domestic product. The packers sure are getting a big bang for the buck they DON’T HAVE TO PAY to the checkoff.

Word Games

As you’d expect, R-CALF, who worked extremely hard to get COOL implemented, had a different take on the WTO appeal than the NCBA. “We’re extremely thankful that our U.S. Trade Representative has chosen to defend our constitutionally-passed COOL law,” said R-CALF COOL Committee Chair, Mike Schultz. “But, we’re in a no-win situation regarding this frontal attack on our COOL law because our nation should not tolerate for an instant a foreign entity’s efforts to undermine our constitutionally-passed domestic laws in the first place.”

As for NCBA’s role in the process, R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard had this to say: “Several powerful corporate industry groups are actually supporting the WTO’s efforts to undermine our U.S. COOL law, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the American Meat Institute (AMI). These groups don’t want U.S. consumers to know if they are buying beef produced exclusively in the United States or if their beef was produced in Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, or any one of the more than a dozen countries where U.S. corporations source their beef.”

Like us, R-CALF’s Bullard had a problem with the WTO panel word game in which they said, that yes, the United States has a right to implement a COOL program but that we implemented it in the wrong way. (They don’t say what is the right way.)

“This is nothing more than semantics,” said Bullard. “and the WTO is far too coy to have attacked our domestic law in any other way than it did. The fact is that the WTO accomplished its objective by ruling on the one hand that COOL was too rigid and treated foreign product less favorably than domestic product, but on the other hand, it ruled that COOL was too flexible and therefore nullified the COOL law’s objective.”

Our government is sure sending mixed messages to cattlemen these days. On one hand the USDA wants to be able to track our livestock from birth to the grocery store so that they supposedly can protect the consumer from foreign diseases, while on the other hand they don’t want supermarkets to tell their customers what country the meat they are selling came from. Is all this making sense to anyone?

“Nonsensical and Baseless”

In theory, members of the WTO gain access to each other’s markets on even terms. This means that no two nations can have sweetheart trade pacts without granting the same terms to every other nation, or at least every other nation in WTO. Granted, that’s a great concept and a worthy goal. But since the WTO was founded in 1995 it has proven that’s not at all what they are about. Some analysts have called the WTO, “The most powerful legislative and judicial body in the world.” What makes the WTO so powerful is that its rules can be enforced through trade sanctions. If, for example, the U.S. loses its appeal over COOL and then does not change or eliminate COOL, then we can be fined, or have trade sanctions imposed against us. In some cases WTO can even exact their pound of flesh by punishing industries not even remotely related to the one in question. This gives the WTO more power than any other international body, even eclipsing national governments like our own.

One look at their history shows the WTO has invariably chosen the agenda of multinational corporations above the interests of local communities, the environment, and working folks. Like the United Nations and the World Bank (who they work hand-in-glove with) the WTO has undermined democracy around the world by promoting the concept of a one-world government. And they do so in secret. While the WTO says that transparency is one of their goals, they often meet behind locked doors, especially after 50,000 people showed up at their meeting in Seattle in 1999 after watching the WTO prove to be just a cheerleader for multinational corporations. Those protesters successfully shut down that WTO meeting but rather than make reforms, the WTO instead just made their meetings and deliberations even more secretive.

It’s hard to find a fan of the WTO. The left sees the WTO as lobbyist for big business, while the right says they should get out of the way and let companies and countries do business on a deal-by-deal basis. Fortunately for all of us, the WTO hasn’t exactly been a raging success.

So stay tuned, a decision on the appeal to WTO’s ruling on COOL is expected within the next 60 days. In anticipation of that event R-CALF’s Mike Schultz says, “The WTO’s anti-COOL ruling is nonsensical and baseless and we are confident the United States will prevail in this unenviable appeal.”

Nonsensical and baseless, you say?

That’s the very definition of the World Trade Organization.

NATURAL SOLUTIONS FOUNDATION
Your Global Voice of Health & Food Freedom™
www.HealthFreedomPortal.org

Health Freedom USA is pleased to re-post this article by Ms. Hannes which was originally circulated by our friends at NAIS Stinks.com … NAIS is the National Animal Identification System which wants to “chip” all farm animals, “voluntarily” — and, for many reasons we agree with them, NAIS stinks! Both Codex and S.510 are very NAIS friendly, and thus not friendly to farmers, consumer or environment – see: www.FriendlyFoodCertification.org.

Why S.510 Does NOT Protect Local, Natural Food… or Freedom!
S. 510 Hits A Snag
by: Doreen Hannes Dec. 4, 2010
Reprinted with permission from www.naisstinks.com

Senate Bill S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed the Senate on November 30th, 74-23. Not a single Democrat crossed party lines. This bill is the coup on food in the US. Even though the Tester Amendment was included to dupe those who think it will stop small farmers and processors from being put right out of business, it will only slow down the demise of some small farms.

Then it came to light that a Constitutional issue that had been staring all of us in the face was present. The Senate did not pick up HR2749, which passed the House in July of 2009; instead they took up their own monster in S 510. They also began revenue generation in the Senate (Section 107 of the bill), which is expressly forbidden by the Constitution.

Faced with a patently un-Constitutional bill, that violates Constitutional process, we have to remain vigilant until BOTH houses have adjourned for the winter recess prior to the next session of Congress. Talk about roller coasters.

If the Constitution means anything at all, the House should blue slip S. 510, which would preclude them from taking the bill up and very likely run out the clock for passage in this session.

However, there are four choices available for the legislation to move forward before they adjourn on December 24th. The first is for the Senate to bring it back and get unanimous consent to remove the offending section. Since Senator Coburn of Oklahoma will not consent, that avenue is cut off.

Second is for the Senate to bust S. 510 down to the original a compromise amendment, remove the funding section and the Tester amendment and try to ram it through the entire senate process again before the 24th. This seems unlikely, but do not trust them as far as you can throw a semi trailer loaded with lead.

Third, the Senate could take HR2749, which has already passed the House, and rush it through the Senate, and it would go straight to the Presidents desk with no process with the House necessary. This also seems rather unlikely. The bills are very similar and would have the same detrimental effects for everyone, but the Senators are not familiar with the bill, so it could be really tough.

Fourth, the House Ways and Means committee could pass the bill through and forgive the Constitutional infraction and refuse to blue slip the bill, then vote on it before the 24th and we would have the bill albeit there would be legal issues brought forth that could possibly ensnare the regulations they want to write under this bill. This appears to be the most likely potential for S. 510.

Make no mistake about this, SB 510, or HR 2749 are worse than the Patriot Act, the Health Care bill, and the Federal Reserve Act combined. We can all live without little pieces of paper, and many of us can live without doctors, and we have been living with the increasing police state since 911, but none of us can live without food and water. If we lose food and water, we will not be able to fight anything else.

The Tester-Hagan Amendment Lipstick on a Pig

The largest deception played on the public in S. 510 is the inclusion of the Tester Amendment. This amendment was sold as the complete exemption for all small farms grossing less than $500,000 per year. But if one reads the actual amendment, it is evident that it will not do what it is purported to do for the vast majority of small producers.

The Tester Amendment has strident restrictions on those who may be exempted from HACCP (Hazard and Critical Control Point) implementations. HACCP is 50 pages of instructions that require a certifier to sign off on the plan, and a team to be trained in ensuring the plan is followed on the farm. The requirement of this plan put about 40% of small meat processors out of business several years ago. If you fall under the protection of the Tester amendment, you will not have to do it….but let us see how protective the Tester Amendment really is.

First, the Tester Amendment purports to exempt farms with less than $500,000 in sales from the requirements of S.510. However, to be exempt one must sell more than 50% of their products directly to consumers or restaurants within a 275-mile radius from production, and keep records substantiating those sales. The records are open for inspection and verification of the exemption. In other words, you have to prove you are playing by their rules through record keeping and approval of those records, or meet the more onerous requirements of S.510.

You must apply to be included in the protections of the Tester amendment. You must substantiate through your records for three years that you fit the category of selling more than 50% of average annual monetary value within this 275-mile radius. So, if you sell on the roadside or at a farmers market, you must have a map handy and ask for ID from everyone who purchases from you or lose your exemption. Nice, huh?

Proof of Residence for Food? Really?

I can see it now….A lovely early June day, with the birds singing and the smell of freshly mown hay hanging in the air like the best memory from childhood. A young mother pulls into the Farmers Market and readies herself for a wonderful shopping experience.

She approaches the first stand with her mouth nearly watering at the bright display of fresh produce. I would like 3 cucumbers, please, says the lady with her 3 kids and cloth grocery bag.

Great! Can I see your ID? replies the guy in bibs.

Oh, I am paying with cash she replies with a smile.

No matter, says the farmer, We have to make sure you are within a 275 mile radius of our farm in order to sell to you.

She looks perplexed and says, Well, we are not. We are on our way to visit my parents and I wanted to make a special dinner for all of us, using their locally produced foods so they could remember how good home grown veggies are….So I can not buy from you without an ID?

The farmer scratches his head and says, Now see, I have to be very careful. I belong to a CSA that sells to a Chipotle that is 276 miles from us, so all of my sales at market have to be local or I lose my exemption and will have to hire 5 people to take care of the paper work and then I just go out of business. So no, I can not sell to you. What is more, all the vendors here are part of the CSA, so no one here can sell to you. You have a nice day now!

No Surprises-It is Locally — Global

What we have in Tester is local Agenda 21 Sustainable Development. In sum, control over all human impact on the environment. Everything will need to be within the food shed, and if you are outside of the food shed, too bad for you. It is a great way to surveille and monitor food production and distribution. And you still fall under the broad based reason to believe of the Secretary with the Tester amendment. If the Secretary, meaning the head of the FDA or HHS thinks you may have a problem, or deems what you produce to be high risk, you will be shut down until they say you can begin again. All of your product is subject to mandatory recall; that is why you have to keep records of everyone you sell to. And you will have to register as a facility under the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, referred to as Sec 415 throughout the bill. (Knock knock—this is premises identification as in NAIS)

So please, do not tell me how great the Tester Amendment is, and that the expansive powers being granted to the DoD, DHS, HHS, FDA and USDA in this bill will be helpful to small farmers and local food production and make my food safe. Wake up and smell the coffee!!! Oh, wait. The only state that could produce coffee within 275 miles of itself, is Hawaii. Never mind. Wake up, and smell the tyranny, please.

(The best thing to do right now is to call the members of the House Ways and Means Committee as well as your own Representative and tell them they MUST blue slip S. 510. While I know it gets frustrating to call the Congress critters, the more they know that we know, the better the chance at slowing down the destruction they have planned for us. The switchboard number for Congress is 202-224-3121.

NATURAL SOLUTIONS FOUNDATION
Your Global Voice of Health & Food Freedom™
www.HealthFreedomPortal.org

Health Freedom USA is pleased to re-post this article by Ms. Hannes which was originally circulated by our friends at NAIS Stinks.com … NAIS is the National Animal Identification System which wants to “chip” all farm animals, “voluntarily” — and, for many reasons we agree with them, NAIS stinks! Both Codex and S.510 are very NAIS friendly, and thus not friendly to farmers, consumer or environment – see: www.FriendlyFoodCertification.org.

Why S.510 Does NOT Protect Local, Natural Food… or Freedom!
S. 510 Hits A Snag
by: Doreen Hannes Dec. 4, 2010
Reprinted with permission from www.naisstinks.com

Senate Bill S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed the Senate on November 30th, 74-23. Not a single Democrat crossed party lines. This bill is the coup on food in the US. Even though the Tester Amendment was included to dupe those who think it will stop small farmers and processors from being put right out of business, it will only slow down the demise of some small farms.

Then it came to light that a Constitutional issue that had been staring all of us in the face was present. The Senate did not pick up HR2749, which passed the House in July of 2009; instead they took up their own monster in S 510. They also began revenue generation in the Senate (Section 107 of the bill), which is expressly forbidden by the Constitution.

Faced with a patently un-Constitutional bill, that violates Constitutional process, we have to remain vigilant until BOTH houses have adjourned for the winter recess prior to the next session of Congress. Talk about roller coasters.

If the Constitution means anything at all, the House should blue slip S. 510, which would preclude them from taking the bill up and very likely run out the clock for passage in this session.

However, there are four choices available for the legislation to move forward before they adjourn on December 24th. The first is for the Senate to bring it back and get unanimous consent to remove the offending section. Since Senator Coburn of Oklahoma will not consent, that avenue is cut off.

Second is for the Senate to bust S. 510 down to the original a compromise amendment, remove the funding section and the Tester amendment and try to ram it through the entire senate process again before the 24th. This seems unlikely, but do not trust them as far as you can throw a semi trailer loaded with lead.

Third, the Senate could take HR2749, which has already passed the House, and rush it through the Senate, and it would go straight to the Presidents desk with no process with the House necessary. This also seems rather unlikely. The bills are very similar and would have the same detrimental effects for everyone, but the Senators are not familiar with the bill, so it could be really tough.

Fourth, the House Ways and Means committee could pass the bill through and forgive the Constitutional infraction and refuse to blue slip the bill, then vote on it before the 24th and we would have the bill albeit there would be legal issues brought forth that could possibly ensnare the regulations they want to write under this bill. This appears to be the most likely potential for S. 510.

Make no mistake about this, SB 510, or HR 2749 are worse than the Patriot Act, the Health Care bill, and the Federal Reserve Act combined. We can all live without little pieces of paper, and many of us can live without doctors, and we have been living with the increasing police state since 911, but none of us can live without food and water. If we lose food and water, we will not be able to fight anything else.

The Tester-Hagan Amendment Lipstick on a Pig

The largest deception played on the public in S. 510 is the inclusion of the Tester Amendment. This amendment was sold as the complete exemption for all small farms grossing less than $500,000 per year. But if one reads the actual amendment, it is evident that it will not do what it is purported to do for the vast majority of small producers.

The Tester Amendment has strident restrictions on those who may be exempted from HACCP (Hazard and Critical Control Point) implementations. HACCP is 50 pages of instructions that require a certifier to sign off on the plan, and a team to be trained in ensuring the plan is followed on the farm. The requirement of this plan put about 40% of small meat processors out of business several years ago. If you fall under the protection of the Tester amendment, you will not have to do it….but let us see how protective the Tester Amendment really is.

First, the Tester Amendment purports to exempt farms with less than $500,000 in sales from the requirements of S.510. However, to be exempt one must sell more than 50% of their products directly to consumers or restaurants within a 275-mile radius from production, and keep records substantiating those sales. The records are open for inspection and verification of the exemption. In other words, you have to prove you are playing by their rules through record keeping and approval of those records, or meet the more onerous requirements of S.510.

You must apply to be included in the protections of the Tester amendment. You must substantiate through your records for three years that you fit the category of selling more than 50% of average annual monetary value within this 275-mile radius. So, if you sell on the roadside or at a farmers market, you must have a map handy and ask for ID from everyone who purchases from you or lose your exemption. Nice, huh?

Proof of Residence for Food? Really?

I can see it now….A lovely early June day, with the birds singing and the smell of freshly mown hay hanging in the air like the best memory from childhood. A young mother pulls into the Farmers Market and readies herself for a wonderful shopping experience.

She approaches the first stand with her mouth nearly watering at the bright display of fresh produce. I would like 3 cucumbers, please, says the lady with her 3 kids and cloth grocery bag.

Great! Can I see your ID? replies the guy in bibs.

Oh, I am paying with cash she replies with a smile.

No matter, says the farmer, We have to make sure you are within a 275 mile radius of our farm in order to sell to you.

She looks perplexed and says, Well, we are not. We are on our way to visit my parents and I wanted to make a special dinner for all of us, using their locally produced foods so they could remember how good home grown veggies are….So I can not buy from you without an ID?

The farmer scratches his head and says, Now see, I have to be very careful. I belong to a CSA that sells to a Chipotle that is 276 miles from us, so all of my sales at market have to be local or I lose my exemption and will have to hire 5 people to take care of the paper work and then I just go out of business. So no, I can not sell to you. What is more, all the vendors here are part of the CSA, so no one here can sell to you. You have a nice day now!

No Surprises-It is Locally — Global

What we have in Tester is local Agenda 21 Sustainable Development. In sum, control over all human impact on the environment. Everything will need to be within the food shed, and if you are outside of the food shed, too bad for you. It is a great way to surveille and monitor food production and distribution. And you still fall under the broad based reason to believe of the Secretary with the Tester amendment. If the Secretary, meaning the head of the FDA or HHS thinks you may have a problem, or deems what you produce to be high risk, you will be shut down until they say you can begin again. All of your product is subject to mandatory recall; that is why you have to keep records of everyone you sell to. And you will have to register as a facility under the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, referred to as Sec 415 throughout the bill. (Knock knock—this is premises identification as in NAIS)

So please, do not tell me how great the Tester Amendment is, and that the expansive powers being granted to the DoD, DHS, HHS, FDA and USDA in this bill will be helpful to small farmers and local food production and make my food safe. Wake up and smell the coffee!!! Oh, wait. The only state that could produce coffee within 275 miles of itself, is Hawaii. Never mind. Wake up, and smell the tyranny, please.

(The best thing to do right now is to call the members of the House Ways and Means Committee as well as your own Representative and tell them they MUST blue slip S. 510. While I know it gets frustrating to call the Congress critters, the more they know that we know, the better the chance at slowing down the destruction they have planned for us. The switchboard number for Congress is 202-224-3121.)

[Note from REL: you can also use our automated email system to message all your representatives in both houses of Congress; in fact, please to both! Click Here for Action Item: http://tinyurl.com/3xdz3lp.

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 5th, 2010 at 4:48 pm and is filed under Activism, BeyondOrganic, Disinformation, Divest Government of Food Regulation, Food Crisis, GMOs, Legislation to Oppose, Organics . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can track-back from your own site.

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