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Picture yourself eating healthy, fresh, flavorful foods, raised by local farmers who care for their land and their animals in a way that improves the environment, supports local economies, and promotes animal welfare. This vision stands in stark contrast to the current mainstream food supply, controlled by large industrial agriculture companies. In pursuit of the greatest profits, they have sacrificed people's health, environmental quality, and any trace of compassion for animals.

Growing numbers of farmers and consumers share a vision for change, one that promotes healthy people, animals, and the environment. But the large industrial agriculture companies are seeking government help to preserve their market control and profits in the 2007 Farm Bill. Before your eyes glaze over at the words "Farm Bill," ask yourself whether you want to be able to get local, grass-fed meats and eggs. Hormone-free milk? Organic foods free from genetically engineered contamination? A choice whether or not to buy genetically engineered foods? If any of these things matter to you, then the Farm Bill affects your life – it’s about your food!

Two sneaky provisions in the Farm Bill could force sustainable farmers out of business and cut off local control of food safety.

The Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN), has stuck two provisions into the draft Farm Bill that would seriously damage sustainable agriculture and local control of food.

The future of American farmers threatened: Section 121, Country of Origin Labeling, and the National Animal Identification System.

When you buy almost anything, from clothing to toys, there’s a label on it that tells you where it was made.  But not food.  That "USDA" label on a package of meat does not mean that it comes from an animal raised or processed in this country.  In fact, odds are good that it came from Mexico, South America, or as far away as Australia!  And odds are overwhelming that it was not inspected when it came in – less than 1% of all agricultural imports are inspected.  Consider the recent pet food problems, caused by contaminated wheat gluten imported from China.  With the "Bread Basket of the World" in our own Midwest, why are we importing wheat gluten for thousands of pounds of pet food?  The answer comes down to playing the international market to make the greatest profits for the industrial ag companies, of course.

Both farmers and consumers have pushed for Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for agricultural products in recent years, so that consumers could tell if the products were grown and processed under the U.S. environmental and safety laws, or if they were grown and processed in a foreign country with lower standards. COOL would also allow American consumers to decide if they want to support American farmers and ranchers under the "Buy American" concept.

In 2002, Congress included COOL in the Farm Bill and barred USDA from using mandatory animal identification to implement COOL.  Because of opposition from the big industrial agriculture companies, implementation was delayed until 2008.  Now that implementation is drawing near, those companies have convinced Congressman Collin Peterson to turn the victory of COOL into a defeat for farmers and consumers by combining it with the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Peterson has included a provision in the Farm Bill, Section 121, that would allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to use mandatory animal identification to implement COOL.  

NAIS is not necessary to implement COOL.

NAIS would require anyone who owns even one chicken, horse, goat, sheep, cow, pig, elk, deer, or other livestock animal or poultry to register their property with the federal and state governments, individually identify each animal with a unique 15-digit number (and, for many animals, use electronic identification), and report movements to a database within 24 hour.  NAIS would end when the animal is slaughtered.  USDA has not done a cost estimate for NAIS, but experience in other countries shows that this type of program can cost from $37 to $69 per animal on average.  That is more then the profit margin on many livestock animals – and it doesn’t address the probability that small producers will end up paying more because of economies of scale.  Farmers raising pastured animals will be placed at a significant disadvantage to confinement operations because of the logistics of the program.

In contrast, COOL could be accomplished by simply branding each animal with a country brand at border crossings (or marking packages as they go through Customs), and then segregating the animals at slaughter and afterwards. There is almost no overlap between the two programs, and NAIS would require far more money, time, and intrusion into people’s lives than implementation of COOL.  

Think of it this way: Claiming that NAIS is necessary for COOL is like claiming that we have to force anyone who owns a needle and thread to register with the government and report any sewing they do, so that we can have labels on the shirts imported from China and sold at Wal-Mart!

NAIS will drive many American farmers and ranchers out of business and undermine fundamental American rights and values.  The right to know where our food comes from will be an empty right if it is purchased at the price of NAIS.  If NAIS is implemented, consumers would be fooled into believing that they were supporting American farmers and ranchers through the "Made in the USA" label.  Yet more and more of the food labeled that way would be raised by international mega-corporations that are willing and able to comply with NAIS.  With independent producers forced out of business by NAIS, the companies would have a free hand to push for lower and lower standards, increasing their bottom line at the expense of food safety, environmental health, and animal welfare.

For more information about the National Animal Identification System, go to Liberty Ark or the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance

Local control destroyed: Section 123 and Federal Preemption:

The second provision inserted by Congressman Peterson would bar states or localities from prohibiting any food or agricultural product that the USDA has deregulated. The language reads:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no State or locality shall make any law prohibiting the use in commerce of an article that the Secretary of Agriculture has—
(1) inspected and passed; or
(2) determined to be of non-regulated status.

The purpose behind this provision is to deny local and state rights to regulate genetically modified organisms (GMO) crops or food (also referred to as genetically engineered, or GE, crops).  The provision would preempt laws in California, Arkansas and Missouri that regulate the introduction of GMO rice varieties and legislation in Washington prohibiting the planting of GMO canola in certain areas of the state.  States have taken these measures to protect their farmers against contamination from GMO cross pollination, as well as responding to consumer concerns about labeling of GMO foods.  Federal pre-emption also threatens local laws that address hormones in our milk or other additives in our foods.

Do you see a common theme here?  The big companies, while touting the wonders of the free market, don’t want people to know what they’re eating!  Whether it’s un-inspected food from China or GMO technology, the companies want people to stay ignorant.  The industrial agriculture companies tried to get this provision passed last year as the "Food Uniformity" bill, and failed.  So now they’re trying to sneak it into the Farm Bill.

TAKE ACTION

Sadly, it is a Democratic Congressman who inserted these sections.  So we need Democrats to speak up!  This is about our food supply, not just farms and rural America.  Please contact Collin Peterson, Senator Harkin (Chair of the Senate Ag Committee), any member of the Committees from your state, and your own Congressman and Senators.  Yes, that’s a lot of people – but each call takes less than a minute, or you can do one letter that you copy to all of them.  Just a few minutes dedicated to protecting health food, the environment and our economy!  

Contact the people listed below!  

The Message: I am opposed to the National Animal Identification System and to federal pre-emption of local control over our food supply.  Please strip Sections 121 and 123 from the draft House version of the Farm Bill. The law barring the USDA from using mandatory animal identification to implement COOL should not be changed, and states and local governments should be able to adopt higher standards than the USDA.

  1.  The Honorable Collin C. Peterson

Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture
1305 Longworth House Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515
Phone: 202-225-2171
Fax: 202-225-8510
Email: agriculture@mail.house.gov

  1.  Senator Harkin

Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
Room SR-328A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC. 20510-6000
Phone: 202-224-2035

  1. Any member of the House or Senate Committee on Agriculture who comes from your state -- it's important that they hear from the people within their state.  The members of both committees are listed below, in order of their states (starting with Alabama and ending with Wisconsin).
  1.  Your Congressman and Senator: http://www.house.gov/... and http://www.senate.gov.  Or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.  

House Committee on Agriculture:

Members are listed in order of their states (alphabetically).  Senate Committee members are listed afterwards.

  1. Terry Everett (AL), (p) 202-225-2901, (f) 202-225-8913
  2. Michael Rogers (AL), (p) 202-225-3261, (f) 202-226-8485
  3. Jo Bonner (AL), (p) 202-225-4931, (f) 202-225-0562
  4. Joe Baca (CA), (p) 202-225-6161, (f) 202-225-8671
  5. Dennis Cardoza (CA), (p) 202-225-6131, (f) 202-225-0819
  6. Jim Costa (CA), (p) 202-225-3341, (f) 202-225-9308
  7. Kevin McCarthy  (CA), (202) 225-2915, (f) 202-225-2908
  8. John T. Salazar (CO), (p) 202-225-4761, (f) 202-226-9669
  9. Marilyn Musgrove (CO), (p) 202-225-4676, (f) 202-225-5870
  10. Timothy Mahoney (FL), (p) 202-225-5792, (f) 202-225-3132
  11. David Scott (GA), (p) 202-225-2939, (f) 202-225-4628
  12. Jim Marshall (GA), (p) 202-225-6531, (f) 202-225-3013
  13. John Barrow (GA), (p) 866-890-6236, (f) 202-225-3377
  14. Leonard L. Boswell, (IA), (p) 202-225-3806, (f) 202-225-5608
  15. Steve King (IA), (p) 202-225-4426, (f) 202-225-3193
  16. Timothy Johnson (IL), 202-225-2371, (f) 202-226-0791
  17. Brad Ellsworth (IN), (p) 866-567-0227, (f) 202-225-3284
  18. Joe Donnelly (IN), (p) 202-225-3915, (f) 202-225-6798
  19. Nancy Boyda (KS), (p) 202-225-6601, (f) 202-225-7986
  20. Jerry Moran (KS), (p) 202-225-2715, (f) 202-225-5124
  21. Charles W. Boustany, Hr. (LA), (p) 202-225-2031, (f) 202-225-5724
  22. Tim Walberg (MI), (p) 202-225-6276, (f) 202-225-6281
  23. Collin Peterson (MN), (p) 202-225-2165, (f) 202-225-1593
  24. Timothy J. Walz (MN), (p) 202-225-2472, (f) 202-225-3433
  25. Sam Graves (MO), (p) 202-225-7041, (f) 202-225-8221
  26. Earl Pomeroy, (ND), (p) 202-225-2611, (f) 202-226-0893
  27. Mike McIntyre (NC), (p) 202-225-2731, (f) 202-225-5773
  28. Bob Etheridge (NC), (p) 202-225-4531, (f) 202-225-5662
  29. Robin Hayes, (NC), (p) 202-225-3715, (f)202-225-4036
  30. Virginia Foxx (NC), (p) 202-225-2071, (f) 202-225-2995
  31. Jeff Fortnberry (NE), (p) 202-225-4806, (f) 202-225-5686
  32. Adrian Smith (NE), (p) 202-225-6435, (f) 202-225-0207
  33. Kirsten Gillibrand, (NY), (p) 202-225-5614, (f)202-225-1168
  34. John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (NY), 202-225-3161, (f) 202-226-6599
  35. Zachary T. Space (OH), (p) 202-225-6265, (f) 330-364-4330
  36. Jean Schmidt (OH), (p) 202-225-3164, (f) 202-225-1992
  37. Frank D. Lucas (OK), (p) 202-225-5565, (f) 202-225-8698
  38. Tim Holden (PA), (p) 202-225-5546, (f) 202-226-0996
  39. Stephanie Herseth Sandline, (SD), (p) 202-225-2801, (f) 202-225-5823
  40. Lincoln Davis, (TN), (p) 202-225-6831, 9f) 202-226-5172
  41. Henry Cuellar (TX), (p) 202-225-1640, (f) 202-225-1641
  42. Mike Conaway (TX), (p) 202-225-3605, (f) 202-225-1783
  43. Randy Neugebauer (TX), (p) 800-763-1611, (f) 202-225-9615
  44. Nicholas Lampson (TX), (p) 202-225-5951, (f) 202-225-5241
  45. Bob Goodlatte (VA), (p) 202-225-5431, (f) 202-225-9681
  46. Steve Kagen (WI), (p) 202-225-5665, (f) 202-225-5729

Senate Committee on Agriculture:

  1. Blanche Lincoln (AR), (p) 202-224-4843, (f) 202-228-1371
  2. Ken Salazar (CO), (p) 202-224-5852, (f) 202-228-5036
  3. Saxby Chambliss (GA), (p) 202-224-3521, (f) 202-224-0103
  4. Mike Crapo (ID), (p) 202-224-6142, (f) 202-228-1375
  5. Tom Harkin (IA), (p) 202-224-3254, (f) 202-224-9369
  6. Charles Grassley (IA), (p) 202-224-3744, (f) 515-288-5097
  7. Richard Lugar (IN), (p) 202-224-4814, (f) 202-228-0360
  8. Pat Roberts (KS), (p) 202-224-4774, (f) 202-224-3514
  9. Mitch McConnell (KY), (p) 202-224-2541, (f) 202-224-2499
  10. Debbie Stabenow (MI), (p) 202-224-4822, e-mail: senator@stabenow.senate.gov
  11. Norm Coleman (MN), (p) 202-224-5641, (f) 202-224-1152
  12. Amy Klobuchar (MN), (p) 202-224-3244
  13. Thad Cochran (MS), (p) 202-224-5054
  14. Max Baucus (MT),  (p) 202-224-2651, (f) 202-224-0515
  15. E. Banjamin Nelson (NE), (p) 202-224-6551, (f) 202-228-0012
  16. Kent Conrad (ND), (p) 202-224-2043, (f) 202-224-7776, E-mail: https://conrad.senate.gov/...
  17. Sherrod Brown (OH), (p): 202-224-2315, (f) 202-228-6321
  18. Robert Casey, Jr. (PA), (p): 202-224-6324, (f) 202-228-0604
  19. Lindsey Graham (SC), (p) 202-224-5972
  20. John Thune (SD), (p) 202-224-2321, (f) 202-228-5429
  21. Patrick Leahy (VT), (p) 202-224-4242

Originally posted to judith2007 on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 06:09 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Informative and useful diary (15+ / 0-)

    Ironically, Rep. Peterson sponsored a conference back in February called The Home Grown Economy: Foods from Local Farms as an Economic Development Tool. He's quoted on his website as saying:

    "We’re seeing a demand for more locally grown foods available in grocery stores, and also for consumption in restaurants, schools and hospitals," Peterson said.  "There are opportunities to keep our local economy strong by using farmers to supply their neighbors with food directly.

    "Localized supply chains, or new value chains, can provide opportunities for profit for rural entrepreneurs and main street businesses that want to participate in processing and distribution of food.  My goal in sponsoring this conference is to provide an opportunity to learn about and explore how these new value chains can become an economic development engine for our communities."

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 06:23:44 AM PDT

    •  The gap between rhetoric and reality ... (16+ / 0-)

      That is rather ironic.  Part of the explanation can probably be found in the fact that Digital Angel, one of the largest microchip manufacturers pushing for NAIS, is in Minnesota.  And part of it may be that he's listening too much to groups like Farm Bureau, who claim to represent farmers, but who actually promote a lot of programs that benefit industrial ag interests.  Karin Bergener, an attorney from Ohio, has written an excellent   article about Farm Bureau's involvement in NAIS.  A.V. Krebs did a great article about Farm Bureau a few years back, as well.  There's a significant gap between the interests of a lot of these big agricultural associations and the interests of the actual farmers and rural community.

    •  Another Peterson Statement (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sidnora, Hardhat Democrat, judith2007

      But USDA may not be the final arbiter of the status of the NAIS. Incoming House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson has said on more than one occasion in recent weeks that he currently favors a mandatory approach because USDA has been "screwing up" implementation of a voluntary system

      Link

      If producers won't sign up for a bad program on their own, then let's fix it by forcing producers to sign up for a bad program.

      •  Ugh. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hardhat Democrat

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - Franklin D. Roosevelt "They are a threat to your children, David" - George W. Bush

        by sidnora on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 07:48:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You nailed it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hardhat Democrat

        If producers won't sign up for a bad program on their own, then let's fix it by forcing producers to sign up for a bad program.

        The industrial ag groups worked together with large technology companies to develop NAIS back in the 1980s and 1990s.  It was a marketing issue, trying to raise consumer confidence in the US and abroad with "source verified" foods.  But most farmers (1) don't know about it and (2) don't want to have anything to do with it because the $20-30 premium per cow are not worth the expense and labor of the tracking.  So, since the market failed to do what the companies wanted, they took the idea to the USDA in 2002, re-packaged as an "animal health" issue.  Everyone has conveniently ignored the complete lack of any scientific evidence that NAIS would do anything to improve animal health!

  •  Wow, thank you for all this info! (11+ / 0-)

    I am going to be disseminating farm bill info to the farmers and shoppers at my local Farmers' Market next weekend, and this is very, very useful.

    I hope you don't mind if I copy pretty much your whole diary for this project. Thanks - rec'd and tipped, too, if you'll put up a jar!

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - Franklin D. Roosevelt "They are a threat to your children, David" - George W. Bush

    by sidnora on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 06:23:58 AM PDT

  •  Easy to understand! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, LBK, Hardhat Democrat

    This is a very complex issue. Thank you for taking the time to thoroughly explain it and its impact!

  •  Class Implications of NAIS (11+ / 0-)

    Judith,

    thanks for the post.  One of the hidden dangers of NAIS is that it will deepen class differences.  Food from grocery stores will only cost more.  This will be driven by the horrendous cost of NAIS being passed on to consumers.  Even if some of the costs are absorbed by government (read, tax increases), the destruction of independent agriculture means less competition, and thus, price control by big ag.  Same result - costs go up.  With local producers driven out of business by the burdens of NAIS, there won't be an alternative to food shipped into the country, whose price is affected by rising fuel costs, and big ag will be able to charge whatever it wants for food.

    There are also poor subsistence farmers, who rely on a few chickens, one or two pigs or cows, etc., and may use a horse for power.  The costs of NAIS, if they were to even try to comply, would make them give up owning livestock.  Add to that the classist assumption that everyone in America has a computer, and can make on-line reports within 24 hours of taking their horse down the road to help a neighbor, for instance, and USDA and Peterson are ignoring a large group of people. It's estimated that only 1/2 of the farmers covered by NAIS own computers.  Many of them don't have electricity, and many don't have phones.  And, yes, illiteracy still exists.  There are many covered by NAIS who can't read and wouldn't be able to fill out the myriad forms.  I had one such gentlemen in a talk I gave a month ago.   He could read numbers, and took down Representative Schmidt's number, but his wife had to  handle the words.

    Bumblebums, interesting note.  How do we get these Congress people to see that they're building up with one hand and tearing down with another?  

    •  the social justice aspects are often overlooked (4+ / 0-)

      Great points!  When I first started fighting NAIS, the local farmers' market organizer talked with me about some of the problems she saw from a social justice perspective -- senior citizens who keep a few chickens because the eggs were the only high-quality source of protein they could afford on their social security income, immigrant families who keep a goat to supply milk for their children and meat for the entire family, lower-income families who come to the market for fresh food to keep their kids healthy, etc.  These folks cannot afford registration fees, electronic tags, and database reports, nor will they have access to wholesome fresh foods if the local small farmers are driven out of business.

  •  don't forget this one (9+ / 0-)

    House Subcommittee Today Approves Language Slipped into Farm Bill that Prevents States from Protecting their Citizens:

    Washington May 24, 2007 - Earlier today, the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry approved new language slipped into the 2007 Farm Bill that pre-empts any state prohibitions against any foods or agricultural goods that have been deregulated by the USDA. The passage appears to be aimed at several recently enacted state laws that restrict the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops, but could also prohibit states from taking action when food contamination cases occur.

    ...

    The passage approved by the House Subcommittee today states that "no State or locality shall make any law prohibiting the use in commerce of an article that the Secretary of Agriculture has inspected and passed; or determined to be of non-regulated status."

    ...

    the vague language of the proposal raises concerns that states would be barred from taking action when food safety threats arise. For example, states could be barred from prohibiting the sale of e. coli-tainted ground beef if the meat has passed USDA inspection, as was the case in last week's massive 15-state beef recall.

  •  Nicely written diary, Judith. (5+ / 0-)

    Everything is laid out very clearly, and that must've taken work, since it's a pretty complex subject. It's times like these that I almost wish I lived in the U.S. so I could help you folks with calling all those Congress-men and -women, and Senators.

    Hope you're successful in getting these odious provisions stripped from the Farm Bill.

    No more war profits = No more war! - ImpeachKingBushII

    by KiaRioGrl79 on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 07:19:25 AM PDT

    •  Global Economy (3+ / 0-)

      With all the global economy talk I think it would be fair for Congress to start receiving global recommendations.

      •  I'd hate to give someone an excuse (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LBK, Hardhat Democrat

        to accuse them of being under (gasp, the horror) furriner influence. Like the mega-corporations aren't a million times worse than little ol' me...

        No more war profits = No more war! - ImpeachKingBushII

        by KiaRioGrl79 on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 07:54:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The "foreign" influence (5+ / 0-)

          Kia - sorry but I'm new here.   Where are you? The Amish are threatening to leave the US over NAIS.  Maybe they and I will join you. ;-)

          Yup, it looks like foreign influence. As some Europeans have pointed out, on this one - NAIS, and the general over-regulation of agriculture, we seem to be following them, rather thant the usual pattern of other countries adopting the American approach to something.  However, it's more probable that the same multinational agribusinesses that are driving NAIS have been able to implant versions of it elsewhere more quickly.  The US has rather strong rules against bribing officials, whereas in other countries it's perfectly acceptable to pay off people in the government.  It makes it much easier to get draconian measures in place when you're big and have a lot of money to spend.  

          In Europe it's becoming difficult to raise food independently.  All sorts of crazy rules like you aren't allowed to truck animals to slaughter a distance longer than 100 miles..and other rules making it impossible for small slaughterers to stay in business.  Thus, no place to take animals for processing.  And, if you can't do your own butchering...you're unable to raise your own meat. With NAIS, we can see the same long-term effects here.

          •  I'm a proud Canadian! (2+ / 0-)

            Part of the reason I came here was to connect with fellow progressives, and part of it was - how should I put it? - preemptive intelligence? Our despicable Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and a whole bunch of his cronies, studied under a bunch of neocon cronies of those who mentored Wolfowitz and the rest of the PNAC... so I'm studying how they're attempting to implement their horrible policies in the U.S. in the hopes of more easily recognizing what they're attempting to do up here in Canada.

            It's amazing what kind of dirt you can see when you know where to look.

            No more war profits = No more war! - ImpeachKingBushII

            by KiaRioGrl79 on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 09:26:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  This should be on the rec list (6+ / 0-)

    It's chock full of very important information.

    I did not like fascists when I fought them as a diplomat for 23 years and I don't like them now in my own country. - Ambassador Joseph Wilson

    by HootieMcBoob on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 07:21:03 AM PDT

  •  Rural Issues and Rural Voters (7+ / 0-)

    A few days ago there was a diary about rural voters.  

    Link

    There are so many huge issues facing rural populations; supporting the removal of Sections 121 and 123 from the Farm Bill seems like a great way to reach out to the rural voters.  

  •  Get the word out to Bloggers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CSI Bentonville, horsepatsy

    especially of the Food Kind.

    One good place to start...

    http://www.cfra.org/...

    http://www.cfra.org/

    The Center for Rural Affairs was established in 1973 as an unaffiliated nonprofit corporation under IRS code 501(c)3. The Center for Rural Affairs was formed by rural Nebraskans concerned about family farms and rural communities, and we work to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. The Center for Rural Affairs has evolved into one of the nation’s leading rural organizations known for our pioneering work to rebuild rural America and our national work to reform federal policy.

    Don Reeves, President and Board Chair
    Chuck Hassebrook, Executive Director and Rural Policy Program Director
    Jon Bailey, Rural Research and Analysis Program Director
    Jeff Reynolds, Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) Program Director
    Michael Holton, Rural Opportunities and Stewardship Program Director
    Barbara Chamness, Administrative and Organizational Development Director

    Center for Rural Affairs
    145 Main St , PO Box 136
    Lyons, NE 68038

    email: info@cfra.org

    I'm not going anywhere. I'm standing up, which is how one speaks in opposition in a civilized world. - Ainsley Hayes

    by jillian on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 07:38:23 AM PDT

  •  Section 123 question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hardhat Democrat

    Since milk and meat are regulated would this mean that states could still continue to prohibit or limit the sale of these items?

    •  It's not completely clear (2+ / 0-)

      I think that states could still do some sort of regulation, so long as it did not involve a "prohibition."  For example, they may be able to do inspections of meat or milk. Or they could regulate items that USDA has not regulated (such as in-state raw milk sales).  But they couldn't ban hormone-laced milk, cloned meats, GMO foods and crops, etc.  That's my initial reading of the section, at least, but I haven't had time to do the sort of in-depth analysis on the language that it really needs.

  •  Food Consolidation (4+ / 0-)

    FromGristmill

    Food production and retailing have gotten so squarely under the heel of a few corporations that even the USDA is raising an eyebrow.

    At the top, the agency teems with PR flacks for the agribusiness giants. But that doesn't mean there aren't competent researchers among the rank and file. One of them, Steven W. Martinez, has issued a useful report (PDF) on consolidation in the food industry.

    On page 21, a chart reveals that in 1972, the four largest milk processors controlled 17 percent of the market. By 2002, that figure had risen to 42 percent. And as the market consolidated, the few companies who controlled it quietly shuttered processing plants, concentrating production in ever-larger facilities.

    In 1972, there were 2,507 milk processing plants across the U.S. By 2002, only 524 remained. That's an 80 percent drop in 30 years. And that means dairy farmers not only had fewer and fewer buyers for their product, but they also had to pay up to have their milk shipped to ever greater distances as nearby processing plants shut down.

    I'm not going anywhere. I'm standing up, which is how one speaks in opposition in a civilized world. - Ainsley Hayes

    by jillian on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 08:03:12 AM PDT

    •  less security, higher prices, lower quality (3+ / 0-)

      Jillian, great stats!  Consolidation is a major problem.  In 2005, the Government Accountability Office did a study on agroterrorism, and pointed out that the consolidation of our food supply makes it very vulnerable to both man-made and natural disasters.  And as the big corporations gain more and more control, they have the ability to set ever-increasing prices, even as they keep cutting corners on quality and safety.  The answer is a local, diversified food system.  Interest in local and sustainable foods has been growing by leaps and bounds, and I think the big corporations have become concerned about ultimately losing their control and profits.  They can "capture" the organics market by getting lower standards and turning even "organics" into an industrial system.  But they can't capture the local and direct markets for food, so they have to find ways to shut those down!

  •  Vegetables of Mass Destruction: Sneaky provisions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CSI Bentonville

    Sneaky is the operative word in how the USDA plans to put NAIS on all of us....

    Most people find out from sites like this or word of mouth.  Where do you ever hear about NAIS in the mainstream media?  I have had no luck in getting even the conservative talk show hosts to mention this on their programs.  The USDA knows there would be a massive outcry so they are tying to sneak it in by funding (our tax $$$) 4H and FFA to get kids to sign up their places and others, too.

    Idaho Ag signed up nearly 14000 without their knowledge or permission.

    USDA claims NAIS is free to sign up for but they do not tell you the wording in the NAIS document makes the owner of the premise little more than a sharecropper!

    They do not tell you that currently only convicted sex offenders/child molesters must register their premises and file movement reports.  That is what I will have to do as a horse owner!

    They do not mention history where in 1938 the Jews were required to register their premises and ALL they owned into a massive database.  It worked.  Made it very easy to find out who had the best goodies and invent trumped up charges on who to raid for their jewels and art. We all know how the rest of it turned out.  A little thing called the holocaust! In the same time period, Stalin declared the commie government owned all the farms and grain, forbid the farmers to eat what they grew and starved millions in the Ukraine.

    •  4H and Shades of Hitler Youth (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CSI Bentonville, horsepatsy

      Yes, Colorado and North CArolina have the most official programs, requiring 4H kids to register their farms.  In Colorado, they even advised 4H'ers they could register the farms where they house their animals - even if it was a neighbor's, not their parents' farm!  The North Carolina NAIS website is particular...funny in a painful way.  They state that "premises registration is voluntary."  5 lines below, there is a link to a document explaining why 4H Participants must register their Premises.  Not only have USDA and Departments of Ag in many states re-defined "voluntary" to include "coercion"  but they also include "mandatory" under the meaning of "voluntary."

      And, yes, there are many states that are data dumping.  USDA announced an opt-out program, for people who were put in the database without their involvement, but so far only a couple people have succeeded in opting out, and it took heroic efforts to do so.  As we suspected,  it was a PR move by USDA, and they have no intent to really let people withdraw.

    •  The New Meaning of 4-H Values (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CSI Bentonville

      When I read about Idaho registering premises without the owner's knowledge (and then using those percentages when applying for more USDA Cooperative Agreement money) I thought it was about as low as government could go.

      Then I came across this story about encouraging 4-H children to do the same:

      During an April 9 meeting of the Lincoln County Fair Board, Goodwin was asked what a youngster should do when their animal is kept at a location different from their own (which many 4-H members do). Goodwin’s response was "to persuade the landowner to register the premises or find a new location to house the animal." Goodwin went on to suggest that the youth should register the landowner’s premises without the landowner’s knowledge or consent.

      Link

      I've met many savvy children, but in the event of a serious disease outbreak, the USDA should not be relying on the coerced information from our youngsters.

  •  Vegetables of Mass Destruction: Sneaky provisions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CSI Bentonville

    If NAIS is such a great thing as declared by the USDA puppets, why are there no pro-NAIS websites? Do a google search and all you will find are anti-NAIS websites created by those who have researched NAIS using NAIS documents. The only pro-NAIS sties are the USDA/state ag sites.

  •  Senator Leahy is behind NAIS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CSI Bentonville

    From NoNAIS.org

    Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Arlen Spector (R-PA) are the NAISty legislators behind the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) that will destroy small farmers, homesteading and pet ownership if it is implemented.

    Farm Bill Feedback From

    USDA Animal ID coordinator
    Neil.E.Hammerschmidt@usda.gov

    USDA Animal ID comments
    animalidcomments@aphis.usda.gov

    State Departments of Agriculture Website Directory

    From the New Farm

    Texas beef producer Debbie Davis objects to NAIS as an invasion of privacy. Davis is a member of the recently-formed Farm and Ranch Alliance, a non-profit lobbying group founded to oppose NAIS. "I market my product locally," Davis said. "I diligently keep records including approximate calving dates, sires, dams, which pasture they were in at any given time throughout their life, vaccinations, and any medical treatments of every one of my animals. I can source verify for quality control and peace of mind for my customers--with whom I have contact.

    Mary Zanoni, Ph.D. (Cornell), J.D. (Yale),
    Executive Director of Farm for Life™ has a response to NAIS on OrganicConsumersAssocation.

    I'm not going anywhere. I'm standing up, which is how one speaks in opposition in a civilized world. - Ainsley Hayes

    by jillian on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 08:23:23 AM PDT

  •  Don't want to (2+ / 0-)

    start a flamer here, but this issue really opened my eyes during the 90's of what an inregulated free market and the Clinton Administration were doing to our food. GMO's were stealthily sanctioned, declared legal and pumped through the food chain as progress and healthy and all without a any debate or much public input. Late one night on PBS I watched a special about Monsanto which ended with some mad scientist saying "If anyone should play God it should be Montsanto" Oh Brave new world!  

    "And if my thought-dreams could be seen They'd probably put my head in a guillotine" Bob Dylan

    by shaharazade on Sun Jun 17, 2007 at 11:00:56 AM PDT

    •  GMOs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade

      There's been a huge amount of cover-up involved in the GMO issue.  What's interesting is listening to "proponents of the free market" do everything they can to stop the free market from functioning when it's to their disadvantage.  Most Americans have no idea that they're eating GMO foods, because all attempts to label have been blocked.  One of the basic underlying theories of the free market is good information!  We can't make choices if we don't have information.

      And, having said that, I think GMOs need to be regulated as well as labeled.  They pose serious problems, both for those who eat them and with cross-contamination of other crops.

  •  Vegetables of Mass Destruction (0+ / 0-)

    So right Judith. Too few non-farm people realize how important farm issues are to them. National Animal Id and the sneaky tricks used by USDA to cram it down our throats should create outrage by everyone who eats and everyone who wants to have a choice. It will in the short run result in higher food prices and in the long run unsafe food. It will take away the choice of Americans to choose whether they want food produced by people in their own communities or South America, China or some other country. Ultimately if they can do this to farmers dont you think they wont think twice about cramming some stupid peice of legislation that "protects" you down the throats of other groups. "protects" right!

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