Tag Archives: USDA

Should you be able to buy food directly from farmers? U.S. local and federal governments disagree over food rights

From David E. Gumpert on Waking Times.com

Some people like to buy their food direct from the farmers who grow it. Click image for source.

“This would seem to embody the USDA’s advisory, “Know your farmer, know your food,” right? Not exactly.

For the USDA and its sister food regulator, the FDA, there’s a problem: many of the farmers are distributing the food via private contracts like herd shares and leasing arrangements, which fall outside the regulatory system of state and local retail licenses and inspections that govern public food sales.

In response, federal and state regulators are seeking legal sanctions against farmers in Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California, among others. These sanctions include injunctions, fines, and even prison sentences. Food sold by unlicensed and uninspected farmers is potentially dangerous say the regulators, since it can carry pathogens like salmonella, campylobacter, and E.coli O157:H7, leading to mild or even serious illness. Continue reading

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USDA advising organic farmers to get insurance against GMO contamination

Remember Percy Schmeiser? Remember the case in Canadian courts in which he was sued by Monsanto for contamination of his crops with stray Monsanto seeds? And how he lost at the Supreme Court? Following along from that precedent, the onus is clearly, if unfairly, being put on non-GMO farmers whose crops are contaminated with stray GMO pollination or whatnot from the crops of their GMO growing neighbours.

How long will it be before it’ll cost more to insure your non-GMO crop against contamination than it will cost to use GMO seeds in the first place. Meanwhile organic standards will inevitably get diluted to recognize the impossibility of keeping the ubiquitous contamination out. Sadly it looks like the madness that is GMO farming, is becoming ever more entrenched on this continent.

From Tom Laskawy on Grist.org

“One of the big debates in agriculture right now involves “coexistence” between farmers who use genetically modified or GMO seeds and those who don’t. This is far more than an academic debate; in question is the risk of “contamination” of conventional or organic crops by GMO crops. The wind, insects, and even the farmers themselves can inadvertently cause this type of cross-pollination, and it puts organic farms at risk of losing their organic status and conventional farmers at risk of losing sales to countries that don’t allow imports of GMO foods. Continue reading

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Internal documents show USDA diet guidelines panel dominated by group sponsored by big food companies

From Kimberly Hartke:

Washington, DC–December 15, 2011–Under pressure from the Healthy Nation Coalition, the USDA recently revealed the identities of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines “Independent Scientific Review Panel,” which is credited with peer-reviewing the Guidelines to ensure they are based on the preponderance of the scientific evidence available. Seven out of the eight panel members are Registered Dietitians (RDs), chosen according to the USDA, “for their knowledge in nutrition communication and dietary guidance.”

At the same time, RDs across America are reeling from the news that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will not reimburse them to provide intensive behavioral counseling for obesity. While the Federal government appears to be relying on RDs as experts in the midst of America’s obesity crisis, it doesn’t want to pay them to help people lose weight.  This news comes as the American Dietetic Association (ADA)—the professional organization for RDs—is under scrutiny for its ties to food and pharmaceutical industries. Continue reading

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More good things come from Maine

Last Saturday I was talking to a young woman who is studying midwifery in Maine. I asked her what the culture was like down there. She started by noting that Maine was next to New Hampshire, where the tagline on the license plates is “Live Free or Die”. She also told me that in Maine it wasn’t uncommon for homes to be off the grid, and that there were a lot of folks living simply there in preparation for the collapse of civilization as we know it. In fact, she said, the whole of New England is much closer philosophically to what we think of as Canada than places like Alberta. She went so far as to suggest Canada should swap Alberta for New England. All by way of introduction to this story on Good Food 4 All blog about a congresswoman who takes her work seriously:

“Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has questions for USDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on raw milk and the appointment of former Monsanto lawyer Michael Taylor to head the USDA.

READ THE LETTER HERE

As all of us in the food movement have done, Rep. Pingree questions the FDA’s role it plays in raids on small farmers.

Small dairy farmers across the country offering raw milk seem to be targeted just because they are easy prey.  They’re outside the lobbying interests, financial influences, coercion and corruption of the government by “Big Ag.”  They don’t have the funds to fight back.   Despite consumer demand, the FDA and CDC still issue dire warnings about raw milk like every sip of the stuff will immediately kill people. Continue reading

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Fear and loathing in the dairy industry

David E. Gumpert reveals why those dairy industry types have their knickers in a knot over raw milk. From the Complete Patient blog:

“Why does the dairy industry push the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so hard to crack down on raw dairy producers?

The dairy industry seems to be mostly in the background, and any publicly-offered reasoning is always to the effect that illnesses from raw dairy taint the entire dairy industry. Of course, we know that is ridiculous, since fear of raw dairy wouldn’t taint the dairy industry, but rather push more of the market toward pasteurized dairy…if there was a serious risk from raw dairy. The problem with the dairy industry’s rationalizing is that there isn’t a serious public health risk from raw milk.  Continue reading

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Bill Marler on government’s laisser-faire attitude to meat poisoning in America

From Barry Estabrook, on his “Politics of the Plate” blog:

Bill Marler

“….Since the USDA decreed that E. coli O157:H7 was an adulterant in 1997 and required companies to test for the bug and to cook any positive samples before distributing them to consumers, Marler has noticed a dramatic drop in the outbreaks of illness caused byE. coli-tainted ground meat. “Prior to that, 90 percent of our firm’s revenue came from E.-coli cases linked to hamburger,” said Marler. “That’s virtually disappeared—with one little act.”

Marler wanted Cargill to perform the same scientifically-based sampling for resistant Salmonella as it does for E.-coli and to divert any contaminated meat for use in precooked products (thorough cooking kills the harmful bacteria). If the Cargill agreed to do that, he proposed to sit down behind closed doors with company lawyers to quietly negotiate a fair settlement. Having handled more than 5,000 salmonella-poisoning cases in his career, Marler said that he has a good idea of reasonable rewards for his clients. Continue reading

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There ought to be a law… keeping kids safe from their parents, and raw milk

From Dr. Richard Raymond, former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) on Bill Marler’s “Real Raw Milk Facts” website:

“….In Colorado, it is illegal to sell raw, unpasteurized goats’ or cows’ milk, but the people who fell ill and the farmer got around this by what is called the Goat Share Program. You buy a share of a goat (or cow) for a set price and get a set amount of milk in return. And you pay a “boarding fee” on top of that to cover the farmers’ costs and labor. So it is technically your goat, I guess, and therefore you are not violating the law by “buying milk.”

Laws are written for a reason, usually to help keep us safe. Parents who find ways to circumvent the laws should be held responsible when their children suffer because of their actions. Continue reading

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