Browsing Posts tagged system

Food Freedom

Are the raw milk raids to distract from something far more deadly to farming?

By William Davis (Food Freedom)

People have been saying that the FDA goofed because their attacks on Rawesome and California’s cease and desist orders for goat herders have galvanized public attention to the issue of raw milk and safe food. But when corporate media gives time to grass roots anti-corporate issues, there is usually a purpose.

Just as the New York Times and other corporate outlets appeared to be muck raking about industrial agriculture with all their stories on the terrible, contaminated conditions there as the food safety bills were on the table in Congress, it was not to ensure the small farmers became a greater source of food but to create sense of public outrage in order to push through a devastating corporate bill.

Not once did the NY Times publish articles on how the bills threatened farmers, though it was blatant that they did, or on how corrupt the FDA was, or about the fact that a Monsanto lawyer and VP was put in charge of all food and farms. And now that the Food Safety Modernization Act has passed and that same Monsanto person is ordering raids against safe food across the country, the NY Times is also silent.

So, if there is big media attention on FDA raids now, one is compelled to wonder what are they pulling farming, food and health advocates’ attention from?

A good guess is the gargantuan thing the USDA is doing to farmers and ranchers and anyone with so much as a chicken. Jim Hightower, former agricultural commissioner in Texas back when such people actually cared about farmers, has called the USDA plan “lunatic.”

The USDA program was once called NAIS (the National Animal Identification System) but was so detested by farmers and ranchers that the government had to back off. They did, momentarily, since 90% of the farmers at Vilsack’s listening sessions were vehemently opposed. The USDA promised to take that into consideration.

They did. They changed the name to “traceability,” hoping to slip it through now, hoping farmers are worn out from the last go-round, hoping the public won’t notice, and perhaps hoping the raw milk raids will keep farmers, and the public who strongly supports them, occupied.

NAIS, or traceability, had been promised as voluntary but the USDA is bringing it back as mandatory. It had been promised to ranchers that their brands would serve as identification but the USDA flat out lied about that.

“USDA did not have to attack our industry’s hot-iron brand or add younger cattle to the proposed rule in order to improve animal disease traceability in the United States, but we believe it has chosen to do so to appease the World Trade Organization and other international tribunals,” said R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard recently.

Hightower’s article makes clear that this animal ID plan to track down deadly animal diseases is not about diseases at all. Neither is the USDA’s decision to locate a germ lab in Tornado Alley over the objections of ranchers and scientists who say it can cause a leak and set off diseases, or in trying to bring in cattle from Brazil where a disease is active now, once again over the objections of ranchers working to keep their animals healthy.

So what is this USDA program that is rousing all this resistance and all this lying on the USDA’s part? Hightower says it is a system that “would compel all owners of [farm] animals to register their premises and personal information in a federal database, to buy microchip devices and attach them to every single one of their animals (each of which gets its very own 15-digit federal ID number), to log and report each and every ‘event’ in the life of each animal, to pay fees for the privilege of having their location and animals registered, and to sit still for fines of up to $1,000 a day for any noncompliance.”

Whoa. It does so many, many objectionable things, one almost naturally skips right over the far and away most poisonous part. Putting aside the onerousness and impossibility of logging and reporting all events and movement of animals and the huge fines, the real kicker is this: it would “compel all owners of [farm] animals register their premises….”

Mr. Hightower is mistaken, however, that the information would be put “in a federal database.” It would be into a privately-owned corporate database, out of reach of a public records request. Farmers raise this central question in a highly informative article called The Amish and the bailout?

A few urban folk may still picture farmers as hay-chewing rednecks, but clearly they were thinking hard as they chewed because they appear to have been sharp as pitchforks at sniffing out what may be the largest government trickery in US history.

What, farmers ask, are “premises?” It is not an international term? And with premises, is a person merely a stakeholder in land, not an owner? Is this, farmers inquired of the USDA, different from “property” which is a constitutional term in which one owns one’s land? And in signing onto premises, wouldn’t farmers be signing their land onto an international contract and in the process be losing their property rights as landowners but become mere stake holders?

And for whom would they be holding the stake?

Some think a good guess might be the IMF, the Fed, the World Bank, or even the Chinese. George Soros has been buying up farmland across the midwest at low prices after the floods. He is also selling gold and buying farmland. Land is where it’s at.

Do the bankers who took our homes, our jobs, our manufacturing, our economy, now want the land itself?

Sometime back, a man named Wayne Hage suggested that our land is collateral on the national debt.

Is that correct? Does President Obama’s Executive Order 13575 further these aims?

Is the USDA forcing our farmers and ranchers (and any of us with a chicken) into international contracts in readiness for a government default? Funny how that sounds remarkably like the Rockefellers’ (bankers) UN Agenda 21. No property rights and no people on the land at all. Have the bankers and corporations created the debt which pushed us into debt in the first place, set the country up for a default in order to take over our land?

The right to choose our food is a fundamental human right and people are now realizing it’s at risk, but there can be no food and thus no rights at all, without the land.

Stopping premises ID comes first. It’s everything.

Ignore the occasional misplaced concern about pesticides and golf courses, and remember that these conservatives saw the fundamental threat of UN Agenda 21 long ago, so even if they drop the dart a few times, they get the bulls-eye when they throw. This video on UN Agenda 21 shows what is planned with land and property rights for everyone.

The Denver Post

As USDA turns to ear tags over brands, cattle ranchers fear end of tradition

Ordway rancher John Reid holds some of the irons he uses to brand livestock on his ranch, the Reid Cattle Co. The USDA is expected to release new interstate rules requiring individual cattle to be identified by a number stamped on an ear tag. (Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post )

The future of the hot-iron brand, an icon of Western heritage, is at the center of a nearly decade-long battle over cattle identification and traceability.

“It’s the latest hot lightning rod,” said John Reid, an Ordway rancher who is past president of the Colorado Independent Cattle Growers Association.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected soon to release a draft of new regulations, which will remove the hot-iron brand from its list of official identification for cattle sold or shipped across state lines.

The new rules will require each animal to be identified by a number stamped on a removable ear tag.

States would still be able to use brands as official IDs within their boundaries.

Individual agreements between states can be reached to allow brands as official IDs for interstate movement — more complications.

Critics fear this is the beginning of the end for America’s centuries-old branding tradition.

“The federal government’s action sends a signal to the entire industry that the ear tag is a superior means of identification,” said Bill Bullard, chief executive of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund.

Ranchers argue that ear tags can fall off or be stolen by thieves, so are not a good form of official ID.

State brand commissioner Rick Wahlert said nothing will change for the state’s cattle producers.

However, the new system is a critical element of participation in the interstate beef market, he said.

Negative reaction to the new rules, he said, “is really about change, and a fear of the government being in your business.”

Gerald Schreiber, a third-generation rancher in northeastern Colorado, already uses ear tags for identification within the herd but bristles at the new regulations.

“It sounds good on the surface, but anytime you get the Big Brother approach, I don’t trust it,” he said. “The brand has worked for 1000 years, I don’t know why they want to disregard it. In the West, branding is more than just a tradition; it’s our identity as ranches.”

First proposed in 2002, the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) was rolled out in 2004, but flatly rejected in USDA listening sessions by over 90% of the cattle producers.

Producers across the country are skeptical about the new program, which would require radio-frequency ear tags that would let cattle be tracked from slaughterhouse to birth.

Their concerns ranged from potential costs to confidentiality of information, including fears that animal-rights advocates would be able to gain information on ranchers through the use of the federal Freedom of Information Act.

“It got pretty ugly,” said Ordway rancher Reid.

From 2004 to 2009, the USDA spent $142 million on NAIS, according to a Congressional Research Service report to Congress. Because it was a voluntary program, less than 30 percent of cattle producers participated.

In February 2010, the USDA announced it was abandoning NAIS due to mass rejection by livestock producers. Now a new name and a new program has evolved called Animal Disease Traceability.

Loss of tradition

The draft of the proposed USDA rule was due in April but has been delayed. It is now expected to be released within weeks, followed by a 60- to 90-day period of public comment. It will take an additional 12 to 15 months before the final rule is released.

“Americans want two things,” Rohr said. “They want to know their food is safe, and they have an interest in knowing where their food comes from.”

Still, the plan to remove the hot-iron brand as an official method of ID across state lines has angered Westerners, who worry about a loss of tradition and the addition of more red tape to their businesses.

“The piece of the deal that is awfully hard for producers to understand is that most disease comes from meat processing plants more than individual cattle or cattle herds.” Reid said.

The brand is the oldest and more permanent form of herd identification, while ear tags, with their unique numbers, can easily fall off in brush and trucks where cattle frequent.

“So the question is,” said Reid, “do we need individual ID or is herd ID enough?”

Note: In this discourse the rancher’s point-of-view takes a look back from the dusty corral at a herd of people with their hands in the semen tank, who feel no pain. People are walking away with millions of cattlemen’s dollars while even select politicians and cattle people themselves condone this high-level heist! A robbery is sweet and kind if it is done with good intentions — right? No . . . WRONG!

Cowboy Makeover

By Lee Pitts

Lee PittsThe American rancher had to be forced into the chair at the beauty salon with a wild rag stuffed in his mouth and a pair of hobbles on his ankles so he couldn’t run away, but the career bureaucrats and professional meeting-goers were finally successful in completing the makeover. It was expensive and they had to be real sneaky about it, but those performing the makeover have finally managed to change two of the most iconic figures in our nation’s colorful history, the cowboy and the cattleman, into “stakeholders” and “producers.”

There’s just one BIG problem with this makeover: the American consumer doesn’t want to buy her beef from a “stakeholder,” or even a “producer.” No, according to market researcher Mary Love Quinlan, they want their beef from a “rancher,” or even better yet, from a “farmer.”

Ms. Quinlan found that women make up to 93% of food purchases and they don’t like words such as “feed additive” on the package. They hate hormones and the title “cattle feeder” turns them off. In fact, they don’t like industrialized agriculture very much at all. So why is the NCBA trying to change today’s rancher into exactly that kind of “stakeholder” that the consumer doesn’t want to do business with?

Makeup and Mirrors

We warned you about the merger of the NCA with the checkoff and all the bad things that could happen as a result (those things are now happening) so let us now warn you about a group called the US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). This group is composed of 33 organizations such as the National Corn Growers Association, American Farm Bureau, NCBA, National Milk, the Soybean Association, Grains Council Poultry & Egg, several state soybean associations, the National Pork Producers Council and other checkoff groups. Although these organizations say they have different viewpoints on some issues, they have this in common: they’re all cheerleaders for the kind of industrialized agriculture the consumer doesn’t trust.

As critics of factory farms, genetically modified seeds, hothouse hogs, downer cows and hormone fed steers appear on the daytime TV shows and book bestseller lists, those pushing industrialized ag realized that they’re losing the public relations war. In other words, they need a makeover.

How ironic then that the group that changed ranchers into stakeholders and producers, chose the trusted words “farmer” and “rancher” when they went looking for their own new name. But instead of looking for alternatives to hormones, GMO’s, 10,000 head dairies, lake-size manure lagoons and other things the consumer doesn’t want her food associated with, the USFRA wants to continue to do all those things while hiding behind the good name and image of the American farmer and rancher.

Members of USFRA say they want to build trust in our current food system and to be successful and have a bigger impact they all needed to band together. They view themselves as “natural partners in effort to promote “new” vision of American agriculture.” And that’s how checkoff dollars from a rancher producing grass fed or natural beef in Montana could end up being used to defend and promote factory farm hothouse pigs, hormone fed beef and milk inducing hormones for dairy cattle.

Sound Familiar?

One of the first warning flags that got our attention about USFRA is their structure and the way they constructed their Board of Directors. The minimum buy-in is $50,000 and any firm that pays $500,000 automatically becomes an ex-officio member of the Board. That’s what passes for democracy these days, you buy your way in, just like they do in Washington D.C. How very American of them. If it all sounds familiar that’s because that’s how the NCBA constructed itself and does business.

The beef checkoff so far has contributed $250,000 to USFRA. Because the beef checkoff is a government program (according to the Supreme Court) you’d think that our government would not condone any effort to promote one type of ranching system over another. But the USDA has given their stamp of approval to USFRA just as long as the checkoff money is used for projects and not membership dues.

One wonders where the NCBA got the money to buy their seat on the Board?

As of this writing only two businesses have ponied up the cash to join, Farm Credit and The Fertilizer Institute, but USFRA hopes to sign up big corporations like Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, DuPont and Monsanto. USFRA currently has $10 million in the bank and hopes to spend $20 million in its first year. They also hope to have an annual budget of $30 million, most of it coming from agri-businesses and checkoffs.

USFRA plans to start presenting their message by mid-July and we already have a good idea of what that message will be and the image they’ll portray of today’s rancher. “No longer,” says visionary ag columnist Alan Guebert, “will it resemble a Land Grant alumnus ordering GM seed or livestock antibiotics on an iPhone. Instead, tomorrow’s farmer will look more like Walter Cronkite than Walter Mitty: weathered, wise, trustworthy. In short, more golden fields, golden sunsets and golden hair and less silver hog barns, silver-sided food factories and silver semis hauling ethanol.”

SuperGroup

Executive members of USFRA are Bob Stallman, American Farm Bureau; Phil Bradshaw, Soybean Checkoff; Bart Schott, National Corn Growers Association; Dale Norton, Pork Checkoff; Gene Gregory, United Egg; Forrest Roberts, CEO of the NCBA. Roberts will also chair USFRA’s Communications Advisory Committee.

What chance does a rancher’s organization like R CALF or the Organization for Competitive Markets, stand in having their message heard when you have the political muscle of big farm groups, commodity checkoff dollars, huge agribusiness firms and the minions who do their dirty work, all rolled into one SuperGroup? It’s all part of that “speaking with one voice” thing that the NCBA was founded upon. The only problem is whose voice the supergroup will be speaking with. From watching the NCBA we already know that answer: it’s whoever ponies up the most money. Even if it is your money that was taxed away from you by the USDA in the form of the checkoff.

How did we ever get so far away from the initial concept of the beef checkoff?

To avoid confrontation USFRA has decided to take two issues off their agenda: biofuels and the Farm Bill. Instead, they will focus on “presenting a more realistic and positive portrayal of modern American agriculture to the public.” It’s a good thing they took those two issues off their agenda because, as we all know, checkoff dollars are not supposed to be used for lobbying or to promote political agendas. (Wink, wink.)

According to Guebert, “the groups want the face of the small farmer and horse-riding rancher to be the public face of agriculture–not confinement hog barns, 100,000-head cattle feedlots; not manure lagoons, eroded fields, hypoxic rivers, lakes and oceans, not GM seed, not sub-therapeutic antibiotics. In other words, the big money behind USFRA wants to preserve and build upon the exact thing the public doesn’t want: modern food production practices it views as questionable, worrisome and even unnecessary.”

In announcing the firm of Ketchum as their public relations firm USFRA said, “Reflecting the new world of Facebook, Twitter and 24/7 tweeting, Ketchum is partnered with Zocalo Group, its full service word of mouth and social media agency, and Maslansky Luntz + Partners, a research-driven communication strategy firm that specializes in “language and message development.”

How very sad that the American rancher and cowboy, whose image and reputation have sold everything from cigarettes to war bonds, now has to hire a firm to develop its “language.”

The Way Big Business Does Business

Randy Stevenson of OCM remembers another time when big business sat down to pow wow. It was back in the early 1900’s when the Big Four meatpackers conspired to control meat prices. Back then they changed the face of American agriculture and had to be broken up by the government. Supposedly, the rules written back then prohibited meatpackers from being in the same room talking about industry matters, but it’s very easy to see them doing this at future USFRA meetings. “Meatpackers have had a history of collusion,” says Stevenson. “They have changed tactics and methods when they have been caught. The collusion is not restricted to that of market division or of price setting. Much effort has, in more recent years, turned to organizational power used to influence the regulatory regimen. The modern version of collusive power is the big and influential organization that influences politicians and helps to make sure that the rules written for regulating anticompetitive behavior don’t bother them.”

No doubt, USFRA will say their money will not be used for such diabolical purposes, but then, who ever thought that the NCBA would be the primary beneficiary of checkoff dollars when ranchers voted it in? Or that there’d even be such a thing as the NCBA?

Hijacked

All this image enhancement is going on amidst a war that has been taking place between the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the Federation of State Beef Councils and the NCBA. According to R CALF, “There is an intense, lopsided, but classic power struggle being waged right now within the Beef Checkoff Program. This is the classic power structure between those who have all the money — the NCBA and its state affiliates — and those who pay all the money — the hundreds of thousands of checkoff-paying cattle producers throughout the United States.” (That would be “stakeholders for you NCBA members.) “Hinging on the outcome is whether the Beef Checkoff Program will be continually fraught with corruption, favoritism, and abuse, or whether the credibility of the program will be restored.”

“The beef checkoff has been in place for some 25 years,” says Fred Stokes, of the Organization for Competitive Markets, “with more than $1.6 billion collected and spent. Just how effective has the program been in “promoting, improving, maintaining and developing markets for cattle, beef, and beef products? Not very!” answers Fred. “During this period we have lost market share, downsized the domestic cow herd, drastically reduced the producer’s share of the retail beef dollar and put nearly 500,000 beef cattle operations out of business.

“So was the Beef Checkoff a bad idea?” Stokes asks. “I say it was a good idea that simply got hijacked! While producers have been compelled to pay the sum of $80 million per year, the overwhelming benefit has accrued to organizations controlled by opposing big meat packing and retailer interests,” according to Stokes.

“An examination of NCBA’s tax form 990 reveals that 80% of its total revenue is derived from the beef checkoff, with only 6% coming from membership dues.” In other words says Stokes, “the NCBA, representing less than 4% of cattle producers, continues as the primary beef checkoff contractor and has a prominent seat at the table when ag policy is discussed. They have opposed cattle producer’s interests at every turn. They fought against cattle producers that supported country-of-origin labeling; against cattle producers seeking mandatory price reporting; against cattle producers that opposed the National Animal Identification System (NAIS); against cattle producers that supported captive supply reform in a major class-action lawsuit; against cattle producers that tried to prevent the premature reintroduction of imported cattle from disease-affected countries; against cattle producers that attempted to ban packer ownership of livestock in both the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills.”

Most recently they have fought against ranchers who support the pending GIPSA rules that would go a long way in reducing the packer’s power to manipulate prices.

All this is not to suggest that there have not been BIG beneficiaries of the beef checkoff. There certainly have been, like Dee Likes of the Kansas Livestock Association who the Comstock Report said received $311,000 for one year’s work. Another employee was paid over $225,000 and yet another over $150,000. “KLA’s CEO, Dee Likes, makes more money than Governor Brownback running the 14 billion dollar state of Kansas,” said the Comstock Report. “Likes can certainly give lessons on how to rob the checkoff train.”

Such revelations have started people talking about what one editor called “the nuclear option.” That would be to hold a referendum and vote the checkoff down. But the USDA and NCBA will never let that happen. Instead the USDA will stand quietly by while the rancher’s pockets are picked and his name is used to sell an ag production system that he may neither condone, nor participate in.

In introducing Ketchum as USFRA’s PR firm, a company partner Linda Eatherton, said, “With over 50 years of service to food and agricultural organizations, our firm was literally built for this assignment. Working side by side with USFRA members, stakeholders and allies, we know we can help people rethink the role of American agriculture in feeding hundreds of millions of Americans every day.”

So there you have it in black and white. In the words of your newest spokesperson you are either an ally or a stakeholder.

Which one, we wonder, are you?

Go

Go

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Since a new framework for animal disease traceability was introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last year, cattle raisers have been up in arms for fear that the centuries-old hot-iron branding methods may be on the way out.

Instead, the USDA wants every cow to have a unique numerical ID, stamped on an inexpensive ear tag, to make it easier to track animals from the ranch to feedlots and the slaughterhouse.

Even as the USDA says it never set out to undermine the traditional brand, cattlemen feel that when the government steps in it will make things more complex. They also fear the withdrawal of federal support for branding might embolden animal-rights activists who call the practice barbaric.

The new rules set to replace the National Animal Identification System were strongly opposed by numerous livestock industries and associations, including Fort Worth-based Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

Although Western movies showing cowboys branding cattle with a hot iron have created the image that the practice started in the Old West, documented history gives verification the practice goes back thousands of years to the days of the ancient Greeks, Arabians, Romans and Egyptians.

Branding was actually introduced to the New World in 1541 by Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez. Branding of cattle became common in the United States after the Civil War. It was said that brands of every shape and design were on Longhorns coming out of Texas during the great trail drives of the 1800s.

Brands are registered in Texas by the county clerk of the county in which a rancher runs livestock. The brand must be registered by the county clerk for the brand to be considered a legal means of ownership. Texas brands have to be re-registered every 10 years.

When I worked for The Cattleman magazine in Fort Worth during the mid-1960s, a favorite assignment was visiting the brand department to research histories of cattle brands. The brands allow TSCRA special rangers quick identification of stolen cattle.

The cattle raisers association has 29 special rangers stationed strategically throughout Texas and Oklahoma who have in-depth knowledge of the cattle industry and are trained in facets of law enforcement. All are commissioned as special rangers by the Texas Department of Public Safety and Oklahoma’s law enforcement agency.

TSCRA market inspectors aid the special rangers by collecting brands and other identifying marks on 4 million to 5 million cattle sold at 115 livestock markets each year. The market inspectors report their findings to TSCRA’s Fort Worth headquarters, where the information is entered in a database retrieval system. It is that database a special ranger checks when receiving a theft call.

“Branding’s the simplest, most efficient way to do it. Why change?” Wil Bledsoe, a Hugo, Colo., rancher, recently told the Wall Street Journal.

“It is a great deal easier in court when stolen animals are fire branded. Prosecutors prefer to try cases where the animals have been branded,” said Scott Williamson of Seymour, a TSCRA special ranger.

Modern cattle rustlers would delight in the current highly promoted electronic ID. Any cattle rustler could easily remove, replace, change and/or cut off ear tags and electronic pins.

The goal of the new USDA framework should be to enable the cattle industry, state and federal animal health officials to respond rapidly and effectively to animal health emergencies, say TSCRA officials.

Cattle raisers remain engaged with state and federal animal health officials to ensure that any animal disease traceability program is solely for the purpose of responding rapidly and effectively to animal health emergencies and does not affect ranchers’ ability to market cattle, officials said.

Jerry Lackey writes about agriculture. Contact him at jlackey@wcc.net or 325-949-2291.

Note:Sec Vilsack knows that 16% of the US 2010 consumed beef was imported. He knows that for the last 21 years the USA has not produced enough beef to feed the nation. Why then, pray tell, does he think it is important to export beef to China, much of which has to be purchased outside the USA? Why would the marble halls of USDA contain people so far removed from the real world to assume it commercially feasable to force mandatory electronic ear tags on nearly a hundred million US cattle just to sell a few ocean containers of beef to China? Who comes up with this math? The cattle ID enforcement brain-child is not about exporting! It is not about livestock disease!

–Editor

Inside U.S. Trade

Daily News

Vilsack Indicates New Traceability Rule Will Help Exports, But Exact Impact Unclear

Posted: May 23, 2011

A soon-to-be-released proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) imposing a mandatory animal traceability system will help win more market access for U.S. meat producers by enhancing the ability of the U.S. government to respond to an animal disease outbreak, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said at a May 12 House Agriculture Committee hearing.

“One of the concerns that we often hear from our trading partners is [about] the capacity to basically trace back at least to the state of origin any problem with animal health, which is why this traceability system is important,” Vilsack said.

Only about 30 percent of cattle producers participate in the current, voluntary traceability system, Vilsack said, and the current system does not “provide us the certainty and the guarantee” that the new system will. “So we think we’re going to get much more acceptance from this effort, and that should reassure our trading partners,” he said.

One meat packing industry source agreed that a comprehensive traceability system is important to expanding exports of beef to the European Union, which has so many information requirements for imports that traceability while not expressly required is necessary nevertheless. A mandatory system could enable more companies to ship there, he said.

Japan, which currently restricts access to its market to U.S. beef exports from cattle younger than 20 months, may be more willing to further open its beef market in light of a new, mandatory traceability system, this source said, because the United States could argue it is better equipped to deal with any animal health problem.

While the new system is intended to be comprehensive and mandatory, it is unclear whether it would meet the demands of all U.S. trade partners.

For instance, China has demanded that the United States implement a system that allows cattle to be traced back not only to their state of origin, but to the farm where they were born. China has said the United States must meet this condition before it will accept beef imports from the United States (Inside U.S. Trade,Nov. 12).

A spokeswoman for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) would not comment on whether the new proposal would be able to meet that requirement. She also would not give a more firm timeline for the proposal’s release than the one offered by Vilsack, who said it would be published by “late spring or early summer.”

But there are signs that the program would not go as far on traceability as China has demanded.

While mandatory, the new program will only apply to animals moving interstate, as these animals pose the biggest risk for spreading disease nationwide, according to a March USDA report giving the initial outlines of the proposal.

Before cattle are moved and sold across state lines, they will be affixed with a tag that bears a code indicating the state or American Indian tribe of origin and a unique numeric identifier. The state or tribe where the animal originated will then be responsible for maintaining detailed information of the animal’s origin.

This means that, in the case of a disease outbreak, it could be traced back tothe farm from which it came.

But Bill Bullard, CEO of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF), said in an interview that while the system strengthens the government’s current ability to conduct trace-backs, it will likely not enable the government to trace back all cattle to their place of birth.

For example, if a cow changed hands several times within a state before being moved across state lines, state records would reflect only the farm where the cow was held last. That said, authorities could rely upon brands or other records kept by ranchers to trace the animal back to its farm of origin in these instances, Bullard said.

In the case of a cow that was raised and slaughtered in the same state and never moved to another, it is possible that no records would be kept under the new system. So-called “slick cows,” those with no brands and no ear tag, could also cause potential identification problems if record-keeping was not detailed, Bullard acknowledged.

So could a cow whose ear tag had fallen off, he added one reason his organization is pushing USDA to maintain the hot-iron brand as a recognized form of official identification.

The focus of the program is cattle, although it will also include changes to the way horses and poultry are tracked; regulations on swine, along with sheep and goats, will not be affected, according to the USDA report.

According to a spokeswoman for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the new rule will be announced on the APHIS homepage and posted on Regulations.gov for a 60-day comment period.

“Once the comment period has closed, no comments will be accepted,” the spokeswoman said. “Consideration and response [to] all submitted comments will appear in the final rule 12 to 15 months after the close of the comment period.”

Bullard said the forthcoming proposal addresses the primary criticisms of the failed National Animal Identification System program (NAIS): that a traceability system would violate ranchers’ confidentiality and leave them unfairly exposed to liability suits in cases of food poisoning. They had also worried about the cost of the program.

The new proposal solves these issues by storing information in databases at the state level or with tribes, rather than at the federal level, where it could potentially be subject to freedom of information requests, Bullard said.

Ranchers worried that kind of producer data could be used by meat packers to gain leverage in negotiating prices, or by people who became sick after eating bad meat and wanted to sue everyone in the supply chain, he explained.

Allowing the use of cheap, metal ear tags instead of the more costly electronic tags proposed under NAIS also largely solves the problem of cost, Bullard said.

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said he was not familiar with the upcoming proposal but emphasized that his group has favored a voluntary approach in the past.

“Our policy has supported voluntary traceability programs,” Stallman told reporters at a May 17 press lunch, adding that some of the group’s members are involved in animal identification for more premium markets.

“There’s some involved in that,” he said. “So they’re not [all] opposed to the idea of traceability. What they’ve been opposed to is who has the information and how much is it going to cost, and how’s the information going to be used,” he said, echoing similar worries to those expressed by Bullard.

But Bullard called other parts of the forthcoming proposal a “broken promise” to his members because USDA had assured them that hot-iron brands would still be considered official identifiers under the new system, and that cattle under 18 months old would not be covered.

Bullard said the latest draft of the proposal recognizes only metal or electronic ear tags as official identifiers and would begin to cover cattle of all ages once 70 percent of cattle older than 18 months roughly the breeding age have been registered in the tracing system.

This version of the proposal has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget and should be released soon, he added, but R-CALF is urging USDA not to publish it until those provisions are changed.

His group wants branding to be recognized as a universal identifier because ear tags can easily fall off, or be replaced by thieves. Under the proposal, brands could only be recognized through special state-to-state agreements. In the interview, Bullard also said that including younger “feeder” cattle in the system is unnecessarily burdensome.

“Our position is, there has been no demonstrated need to identify these younger animals,” Bullard said.

“We have been highly successful in eradicating diseases by focusing only on the breeding herd. And so we want to focus on the breeding herd, and when that is accomplished, we want to do a needs assessment to determine if the additional cost and burden upon the industry outweigh the benefits of the program.”

“We believe that these feeder cattle are already sufficiently traceable during their relatively short lifespans,” he added, “[and] that there is no need to mandate their identification at this time.”

Editor’s Note: Abu Dhabi, the center of the United Arab Emirates, like all other countries is drinking the koolaid about animal ID from the World Ogranisation of Animal Health (OIE). They are told to ID every animal or they can not export — else all livestock value will be ended.

Abu Dhabi, unlike the USA proposed a compulsory AIRS (same as NAIS) that all animals be numbered for food health purposes. In Abu Dhabi the race horses aren’t numbered, but 105,087 camels are. Most won’t be eating camels, but who knows, maybe they have gonorrhea? The government is paying for the computer records and furnishing compliance officers to search the desert sands for every camel, goat, sheep, and cattle.

The fact Abu Dhabi imports over 90% of their milk and meat why do they listen to the OIE and concern themselves with export issues? It is the same sales pitch offered by the USDA, and the United Nations. Now, every one humped dromedary will have an ear chip, but the camel jockeys won’t have to pay for it.

Over 1 million livestock registered in Abu Dhabi

16 January 2011,

ABU DHABI — The Animal Identification and Registration System (AIRS) campaign registered and tagged over a million animals in the livestock category, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) announced.

The authority allocated 55 teams of four each to implement and reach its target in Abu Dhabi city and the Eastern Region that includes Al Ain.

In Al Gharbia or the Western Region, work will be completed by the end of February.

In the last three months since the AIRS kicked off in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, 7,878 farms were visited.

The authority also said the animals already registered include 105,087 camels, 25,748 cows and 1,050,087 sheep and goat heads.

“AIRS campaign is progressing extremely well and we are geared up to complete it on schedule. Farm owners and workers have fully understood the huge benefits AIRS can bring about for them, the consumers, the community, and are greatly supportive for field teams. This is indeed a decisive factor that is helping us to complete both Abu Dhabi and Al Ain Regions on time and we are very thankful for them,” said Mohamed Jalal Al Reyaysa, Director of Communication and Community Service, ADFCA. “As we embark on the Western Region AIRS campaign, we invite livestock owners in Abu Dhabi Region whose animals have not been identified yet to contact the AIRS help desk 800555, or other various existing communications channels to provide all required information such as farm area and number, GPS Location, livestock number per species and AIRS team will set a visit time,” he advised.

AIRS is compulsory and free of charge for livestock owners and it allows the traceability of animals and products of animal origin.

The programme aims to achieve many benefits for Abu Dhabi, livestock owners and consumers and the community such as national database for animals towards achieving food safety, better livestock management systems, as well as better diseases surveillance and control of humans and animals health emergencies.

news@khaleejtimes.com

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.

By Tamrah Jo Ortiz

Thanks to my good friends on Facebook, I was alerted that the ugly head of the government is once again poking its’ large and obnoxious nose into places it doesn’t belong. Yes, I realize this is a inflammatory statement, hence, my writing here, instead of posting this as a comment at the www.opencongress.org website. (which, if you’d like, you can visit and look at the hoopla going on over various bills.)

So, let’s take a look at each of these and try to make sense of them.

NAIS – The National Animal Identification System. In brief, this idea is supposedly born of the desire to quickly identify and destroy animals that pose a threat to both food supply and our existence. (mad cow disease, avian bird flu, anyone?)

What is not so clear is how anyone thinks any of this will really work. Number 1, the folks that want to implement this currently employ thousands to audit tax returns and apparently have not been successful in creating a database or secure electronic means of verifying taxes or conducting a paperless census (which, by the way, we filled out, returned and apparently was ‘lost’ as a census person showed up at my house saying they didn’t get ours. On the flip side, my mom got 2 censuses to fill out and a friend never received any….)

Now, if these folks have not centralized, streamlined and made efficient the operations they have been in charge of for decades, how in the world are we to believe they can implement this kind of system and let us know about diseased food within 20 years of our consumption of it?

Number 2 – current figures show that given the ‘requirements’ of the system, most of the costs will fall on the small farmers and ranchers – courtesy of Wikipedia is the following:

“The costs of becoming NAIS compliant for a U.S. beef producer were found to be a minimum of $2.08 a head for large producers and as much as $17.56 a head for smaller operations, with an estimated average cost to cow/calf producers of $6.26 per animal, according to research by Christopher Raphael Crosby of Kansan State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics published in 2008.”

Does anyone hear “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”?

Number 3 – Historically, outbreaks of disease occur in close population, improperly nourished animals. Farmer John who has 15 head of cattle and 160 acres of pasture does not face the same challenges as Mr. Beef, who has crammed 5,000 cows into a feedlot the size of a Wal-mart parking lot, where calves play on hills of cow patties and drink milk produced from the ingestion of soybean and corn meal (when cows have evolved to do just fine, thank you very much, on grass.)

Plus, Farmer John really depends on his herd for his food, to feed his family and perhaps a neighbor or two and to bring in some extra cash to pay the ever-increasing cost of living expenses. So he has a HUGE investment in making sure his herd is healthy and well-nourished. The loss of even one cow can make or break him.

Mr. Beef can depend on tax breaks, an adjustment of market prices, government bailouts, etc, if he somehow manages to lose his herd to disease. So who do you think takes better care of their herd?

On to the next – Codex Alimentarius – Proponents will tell you it’s an international effort to ensure the safety of food for all – as well as to keep me from accidently killing myself from taking too much Vitamin C.

Again, these efforts are brought to you by folks who can’t even balance their own budgets and settle disputes among themselves in a peaceful manner. Do you really think they know how much Vitamin C I can handle and furthermore, if I were receiving nutritious food, would I even need a supplement? If they are so invested in “Nutritious, Safe Food to further the health and well-being of the populace” then why did they ignore the published findings of biochemist Dr. Mary Enig in the 70’s, who warned of the dangers of trans-fats and hydrogenated fats to the human body? Um, no, took about 40 years before they figured that one out (if they even have yet……………)

I also find it interesting that many countries within the World Effort of this measure are ARDENTLY opposed to GMO foods and have been very insistent on pushing for foods containing those types of ingredients to be Labeled. Those who have a vested interest in controlling both seed and food supplies, by getting ‘patents’ on their genetically modified seeds and plants have kept up the pressure and keep taking a run at getting that ‘pesky little nuisance’ of required labeling for GMO foods buried under the rug.

All in all, I cannot see the reasoning for extending all this effort on the Codex other than for countries who take their food and health seriously to put up a ‘fence’ to keep those exports out from countries that do not. (meaning, US)

So with the history of these two long-running dramas, I now come to the most recent – Senate Bill S510.

Innocuously titled, “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act”, it lists high-sounding ideals and includes some of the following:

food facility re-inspection (um…I worked as a waitress for 12 years, I can tell you, restaurants get inspected every year……)
food recalls (aren’t they already allowed to do that?)
a voluntary qualified importer program (have these people never heard of eating locally?)
So those violently opposed to this bill read it and see how easily seed and food control could be placed in the hands of those who have no business telling us what we can grow or eat, share with our neighbors or sell at the local farmer’s market. And I agree with them to a point; while the bill does not specifically state any of these intents, the large generalized points of it are open to all kinds of interpretations.

History tells me the interpreters will translate it for the benefit of themselves, their agency budget and their large campaign contributors (corporations) before they will for my health and well being.

Again, if you look to history, deaths and illness related to the consumption of contaminated, diseased foods, has been linked to large corporate mono-culture farms, not the small local producers. Why? Well, because the small local producer not only feeds you, but their own family. They don’t have the time or the energy (or the insanity) to grow one garden with ‘good stuff’ for their family and another with ‘questionable stuff’ to sell at the local market.

In addition, if I get ‘bad food’ at the local farmer’s market, I know exactly who to go to with my accusations. When large farms put out questionable produce, it has also traveled through one or more broker warehouses, a packaging plant or two, the transportation gamut….on and on and its’ so easy to pass the buck on who exactly is to blame.

I’m also curious as to why Homeland Security is one of the committees listed on the bill’s information page. What, are they afraid terrorists are going to send us toxic bananas? Newsflash, if everyone ate organic and locally, this fear would be laughable. And I can tell you, any terrorist shows up at our local farmers market with evil intent on his mind, I can guarantee there are enough ‘rednecks’ around here that are just waiting for an opportunity to show the world what real Homeland Security looks like.

I also wonder just where they are going to get the money to implement all this when they are already crying about ‘deficits’ and ‘budget cuts’. To my mind, this has less to do with feeding the nation safely and more to do with feeding the oversized monster we call our government, as well as nudging out any competition to the large centralized food companies.

Implementation, testing and compliance enforcement take money – and that money will come from those who want to ‘buy into the market’ (meaning smaller operations won’t be able to afford to be in the market) – but most of the money will come from you and me, the consumer. What? You don’t think so? Just who do you think is paying for the Tobacco Company Settlements? It isn’t the companies or the government, its’ the consumers. But I’ll leave that debate for another time.

The legislation listed above can only make sense in a climate of fear. They can only pass when we blindly believe the government is really trying to protect us. When we believe that death is more heinous than liberty. (Oh where is Patrick Henry when you need him?)

Quit looking to the government to save you from harm. Know those who grow your food. Have a relationship. Trust me, they are much more invested in your health and well being than the FDA is. Because without you, they don’t have a livelihood. The FDA and government don’t either, but they have forgotten.

Remind them.

By Tamrah Jo Ortiz

Thanks to my good friends on Facebook, I was alerted that the ugly head of the government is once again poking its’ large and obnoxious nose into places it doesn’t belong. Yes, I realize this is a inflammatory statement, hence, my writing here, instead of posting this as a comment at the www.opencongress.org website. (which, if you’d like, you can visit and look at the hoopla going on over various bills.)

So, let’s take a look at each of these and try to make sense of them.

NAIS – The National Animal Identification System. In brief, this idea is supposedly born of the desire to quickly identify and destroy animals that pose a threat to both food supply and our existence. (mad cow disease, avian bird flu, anyone?)

What is not so clear is how anyone thinks any of this will really work. Number 1, the folks that want to implement this currently employ thousands to audit tax returns and apparently have not been successful in creating a database or secure electronic means of verifying taxes or conducting a paperless census (which, by the way, we filled out, returned and apparently was ‘lost’ as a census person showed up at my house saying they didn’t get ours. On the flip side, my mom got 2 censuses to fill out and a friend never received any….)

Now, if these folks have not centralized, streamlined and made efficient the operations they have been in charge of for decades, how in the world are we to believe they can implement this kind of system and let us know about diseased food within 20 years of our consumption of it?

Number 2 – current figures show that given the ‘requirements’ of the system, most of the costs will fall on the small farmers and ranchers – courtesy of Wikipedia is the following:

“The costs of becoming NAIS compliant for a U.S. beef producer were found to be a minimum of $2.08 a head for large producers and as much as $17.56 a head for smaller operations, with an estimated average cost to cow/calf producers of $6.26 per animal, according to research by Christopher Raphael Crosby of Kansan State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics published in 2008.”

Does anyone hear “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”?

Number 3 – Historically, outbreaks of disease occur in close population, improperly nourished animals. Farmer John who has 15 head of cattle and 160 acres of pasture does not face the same challenges as Mr. Beef, who has crammed 5,000 cows into a feedlot the size of a Wal-mart parking lot, where calves play on hills of cow patties and drink milk produced from the ingestion of soybean and corn meal (when cows have evolved to do just fine, thank you very much, on grass.)

Plus, Farmer John really depends on his herd for his food, to feed his family and perhaps a neighbor or two and to bring in some extra cash to pay the ever-increasing cost of living expenses. So he has a HUGE investment in making sure his herd is healthy and well-nourished. The loss of even one cow can make or break him.

Mr. Beef can depend on tax breaks, an adjustment of market prices, government bailouts, etc, if he somehow manages to lose his herd to disease. So who do you think takes better care of their herd?

On to the next – Codex Alimentarius – Proponents will tell you it’s an international effort to ensure the safety of food for all – as well as to keep me from accidently killing myself from taking too much Vitamin C.

Again, these efforts are brought to you by folks who can’t even balance their own budgets and settle disputes among themselves in a peaceful manner. Do you really think they know how much Vitamin C I can handle and furthermore, if I were receiving nutritious food, would I even need a supplement? If they are so invested in “Nutritious, Safe Food to further the health and well-being of the populace” then why did they ignore the published findings of biochemist Dr. Mary Enig in the 70’s, who warned of the dangers of trans-fats and hydrogenated fats to the human body? Um, no, took about 40 years before they figured that one out (if they even have yet……………)

I also find it interesting that many countries within the World Effort of this measure are ARDENTLY opposed to GMO foods and have been very insistent on pushing for foods containing those types of ingredients to be Labeled. Those who have a vested interest in controlling both seed and food supplies, by getting ‘patents’ on their genetically modified seeds and plants have kept up the pressure and keep taking a run at getting that ‘pesky little nuisance’ of required labeling for GMO foods buried under the rug.

All in all, I cannot see the reasoning for extending all this effort on the Codex other than for countries who take their food and health seriously to put up a ‘fence’ to keep those exports out from countries that do not. (meaning, US)

So with the history of these two long-running dramas, I now come to the most recent – Senate Bill S510.

Innocuously titled, “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act”, it lists high-sounding ideals and includes some of the following:

food facility re-inspection (um…I worked as a waitress for 12 years, I can tell you, restaurants get inspected every year……)
food recalls (aren’t they already allowed to do that?)
a voluntary qualified importer program (have these people never heard of eating locally?)
So those violently opposed to this bill read it and see how easily seed and food control could be placed in the hands of those who have no business telling us what we can grow or eat, share with our neighbors or sell at the local farmer’s market. And I agree with them to a point; while the bill does not specifically state any of these intents, the large generalized points of it are open to all kinds of interpretations.

History tells me the interpreters will translate it for the benefit of themselves, their agency budget and their large campaign contributors (corporations) before they will for my health and well being.

Again, if you look to history, deaths and illness related to the consumption of contaminated, diseased foods, has been linked to large corporate mono-culture farms, not the small local producers. Why? Well, because the small local producer not only feeds you, but their own family. They don’t have the time or the energy (or the insanity) to grow one garden with ‘good stuff’ for their family and another with ‘questionable stuff’ to sell at the local market.

In addition, if I get ‘bad food’ at the local farmer’s market, I know exactly who to go to with my accusations. When large farms put out questionable produce, it has also traveled through one or more broker warehouses, a packaging plant or two, the transportation gamut….on and on and its’ so easy to pass the buck on who exactly is to blame.

I’m also curious as to why Homeland Security is one of the committees listed on the bill’s information page. What, are they afraid terrorists are going to send us toxic bananas? Newsflash, if everyone ate organic and locally, this fear would be laughable. And I can tell you, any terrorist shows up at our local farmers market with evil intent on his mind, I can guarantee there are enough ‘rednecks’ around here that are just waiting for an opportunity to show the world what real Homeland Security looks like.

I also wonder just where they are going to get the money to implement all this when they are already crying about ‘deficits’ and ‘budget cuts’. To my mind, this has less to do with feeding the nation safely and more to do with feeding the oversized monster we call our government, as well as nudging out any competition to the large centralized food companies.

Implementation, testing and compliance enforcement take money – and that money will come from those who want to ‘buy into the market’ (meaning smaller operations won’t be able to afford to be in the market) – but most of the money will come from you and me, the consumer. What? You don’t think so? Just who do you think is paying for the Tobacco Company Settlements? It isn’t the companies or the government, its’ the consumers. But I’ll leave that debate for another time.

The legislation listed above can only make sense in a climate of fear. They can only pass when we blindly believe the government is really trying to protect us. When we believe that death is more heinous than liberty. (Oh where is Patrick Henry when you need him?)

Quit looking to the government to save you from harm. Know those who grow your food. Have a relationship. Trust me, they are much more invested in your health and well being than the FDA is. Because without you, they don’t have a livelihood. The FDA and government don’t either, but they have forgotten.

Remind them.

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