Friday, March 20, 2009
2 bills introduced or supported by our congress people:
HR 875 has 3 co-sponsors from Ohio:
Rep. Marcy Kaptur-D 9th
Rep. Betty Sutton-D 13th
Rep. Tim Ryan-D 17th
S 425 was sponsored by our own senator from Ohio:
Sen. Sherrod Brown-D
Both of these bills are in the first step of the legislative process. Introduced bills and resolutions first go to committees that deliberate, investigate, and revise them before they go to general debate. They say the majority of bills and resolutions never make it out of committee so let's keep it this way with these 2 by contacting those involved (and the committe members) to let them know you don't like these bills. You like your safe, local foods the way they are and you want your smaller farmer to stay in business. While your there, also let them know that it will really do nothing for food safety....it's just more government control....at taxpayer expense.
Want to know who your congress people are or how to contact them:
go to: www.congress.org
Lose Your Property for Growing Food?
Big Brother legislation could mean prosecution, fines up to $1 million
By Chelsea Schilling
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
Article from worldnetdaily.com
Some small farms and organic growers could be placed under direct supervision of the federal government under new legislation making its way through Congress.
****** Food Safety Modernization Act
House Resolution 875, or the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, was introduced by Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., in February. DeLauro's husband, Stanley Greenburg, works for Monsanto – the world's leading producer of herbicides and genetically engineered seed.
DeLauro's act has 39 co-sponsors and was referred to the House Agriculture Committee on Feb. 4. It calls for the creation of a Food Safety Administration to allow the government to regulate food production at all levels – and even mandates property seizure, fines of up to $1 million per offense and criminal prosecution for producers, manufacturers and distributors who fail to comply with.
Michael Olson, host of the Food Chain radio show and author of "Metro Farm," told WND the government should focus on regulating food production in countries such as China and Mexico rather than burdening small and organic farmers in the U.S. with overreaching regulations.
"We need somebody to watch over us when we're eating food that comes from thousands and thousands of miles away. We need some help there," he said. "But when food comes from our neighbors or from farmers who we know, we don't need all of those rules. If your neighbor sells you something that is bad and you get sick, you are going to get your hands on that farmer, and that will be the end of it. It regulates itself."
The legislation would establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services "to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes."
Federal regulators will be tasked with ensuring that food producers, processors and distributors – both large and small – prevent and minimize food safety hazards such as food-borne illnesses and contaminants such as bacteria, chemicals, natural toxins or manufactured toxicants, viruses, parasites, prions, physical hazards or other human pathogens.
Under the legislation's broad wording, slaughterhouses, seafood processing plants, establishments that process, store, hold or transport all categories of food products prior to delivery for retail sale, farms, ranches, orchards, vineyards, aquaculture facilities and confined animal-feeding operations would be subject to strict government regulation.
Government inspectors would be required to visit and examine food production facilities, including small farms, to ensure compliance. They would review food safety records and conduct surveillance of animals, plants, products or the environment.
"What the government will do is bring in industry experts to tell them how to manage all this stuff," Olson said. "It's industry that's telling government how to set these things up. What it always boils down to is who can afford to have the most influence over the government. It would be those companies that have sufficient economies of scale to be able to afford the influence – which is, of course, industrial agriculture."
Farms and food producers would be forced to submit copies of all records to federal inspectors upon request to determine whether food is contaminated, to ensure they are in compliance with food safety laws and to maintain government tracking records. Refusal to register, permit inspector access or testing of food or equipment would be prohibited.
"What is going to happen is that local agriculture will end up suffering through some onerous protocols designed for international agriculture that they simply don't need," Olson said. "Thus, it will be a way for industrial agriculture to manage local agriculture."
Under the act, every food producer must have a written food safety plan describing likely hazards and preventative controls they have implemented and must abide by "minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water."
"That opens a whole can of worms," Olson said. "I think that's where people are starting to freak out about losing organic agriculture. Who is going to decide what the minimum standards are for fertilization or anything else? The government is going to bring in big industry and say we are setting up these protocols, so what do you think we should do? Who is it going to bring in to ask? The government will bring in people who have economies of scale who have that kind of influence."
DeLauro's act calls for the Food Safety Administration to create a "national traceability system" to retrieve history, use and location of each food product through all stages of production, processing and distribution.
Olson believes the regulations could create unjustifiable financial hardships for small farmers and run them out of business.
"That is often the purpose of rules and regulations: to get rid of your competition," he said. "Only people who are very, very large can afford to comply. They can hire one person to do paperwork. There's a specialization of labor there, and when you are very small, you can't afford to do all of these things."
Olson said despite good intentions behind the legislation, this act could devastate small U.S. farms.
"Every time we pass a rule or a law or a regulation to make the world a better place, it seems like what we do is subsidize production offshore," he said. "We tell farmers they can no longer drive diesel tractors because they make bad smoke. Well, essentially what we're doing is giving China a subsidy to grow our crops for us, or Mexico or anyone else."
Section 304 of the Food Safety Modernization Act establishes a group of "experts and stakeholders from Federal, State, and local food safety and health agencies, the food industry, consumer organizations, and academia" to make recommendations for improving food-borne illness surveillance.
According to the act, "Any person that commits an act that violates the food safety law … may be assessed a civil penalty by the Administrator of not more than $1,000,000 for each such act."
Each violation and each separate day the producer is in defiance of the law would be considered a separate offense and an additional penalty. The act suggests federal administrators consider the gravity of the violation, the degree of responsibility and the size and type of business when determining penalties.
Criminal sanctions may be imposed if contaminated food causes serious illness or death, and offenders may face fines and imprisonment of up to 10 years.
"It's just frightening what can happen with good intentions," Olson said. "It's probably the most radical notions on the face of this Earth, but local agriculture doesn't need government because it takes care of itself."
***** Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act
Another "food safety" bill that has organic and small farmers worried is Senate Bill 425, or the Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act, sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
Brown's bill is backed by lobbyists for Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland and Tyson. It was introduced in September and has been referred to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. Some say the legislation could also put small farmers out of business.
Like HR 875, the measure establishes a nationwide "traceability system" monitored by the Food and Drug Administration for all stages of manufacturing, processing, packaging and distribution of food. It would cost $40 million over three years.
"We must ensure that the federal government has the ability and authority to protect the public, given the global nature of the food supply," Brown said when he introduced the bill. He suggested the FDA and USDA have power to declare mandatory recalls.
The government would track food shipped in interstate commerce through a recordkeeping and audit system, a secure, online database or registered identification. Each farmer or producer would be required to maintain records regarding the purchase, sale and identification of their products.
A 13-member advisory committee of food safety and tracking technology experts, representatives of the food industry, consumer advocates and government officials would assist in implementing the traceability system.
The bill calls for the committee to establish a national database or registry operated by the Food and Drug Administration. It also proposes an electronic records database to identify sales of food and its ingredients "establishing that the food and its ingredients were grown, prepared, handled, manufactured, processed, distributed, shipped, warehoused, imported, and conveyed under conditions that ensure the safety of the food."
It states, "The records should include an electronic statement with the date of, and the names and addresses of all parties to, each prior sale, purchase, or trade, and any other information as appropriate."
If government inspectors find that a food item is not in compliance, they may force producers to cease distribution, recall the item or confiscate it.
"If the postal service can track a package from my office in Washington to my office in Cincinnati, we should be able to do the same for food products," Sen. Brown said in a Sept. 4, 2008, statement. "Families that are struggling with the high cost of groceries should not also have to worry about the safety of their food. This legislation gives the government the resources it needs to protect the public."
Recalls of contaminated food are usually voluntary; however, in his weekly radio address on March 15, President Obama announced he's forming a Food Safety Working Group to propose new laws and stop corruption of the nation's food.
The group will review, update and enforce food safety laws, which Obama said "have not been updated since they were written in the time of Teddy Roosevelt."
The president said outbreaks from contaminated foods, such as a recent salmonella outbreak among consumers of peanut products, have occurred more frequently in recent years due to outdated regulations, fewer inspectors, scaled back inspections and a lack of information sharing between government agencies.
"In the end, food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your president but as a parent," Obama said. "No parent should have to worry that their child is going to get sick from their lunch just as no family should have to worry that the medicines they buy will cause them harm."
Thursday, March 19, 2009
A few days this week it got into the mid-sixties so I decided to get to work in the garden. Some of the beds needed repaired before I could go much further with them but some where OK. Was able to get some spinach, snow peas, lettuce, kale and swiss chard planted. I'm hoping it wasn't too early for the chard--I guess we'll find out. Now I just watch to see if everything comes up.
Getting the bed ready for some snow peas that I then planted the next day in a t-shirt and flip-flops as it was 65* outside. It was nice to wear flip-flops again!
I know this isn't about planting but I wanted to share this picture. I was doing maple syrup and planting at the same time though, which is kind of diffucult as just one of these jobs is a job in itself. Can't say I ever remember doing both before at the same time. We finished the last batch of syrup today, so now we (I) can concentrate on getting things ready for the growing season.
When we came back from gathering some sap a while ago we saw this. At first we thought the syrup shack was on fire (something we always have to watch for) but when we got inside to check it out, we found out that it was only steam. At first I thought it was because I filled the pan too full before we left, but then we figured out that it was because John had rebuilt the opening to the furnace in a break between sap flows and made it much more air tight. With this new setup the sap was boiling much better. It was kind of cool watching all the steam come out of the holes in the building as well as the steam stack.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Meet our new addition.
The little lady is just a day old sitting and sleeping in the corner trying to stay out of the way. They sleep a lot just like human babies do. This time is about the only time you can go up to it and pet it because in a few weeks it will be runing all over the place and it will be hard to catch. It's surprising how fast they can run for being so little.
Our only goat (it's a pigmy) is eating hay-- always thinking it's better on the other side of the fence. Now he has someone his own size again.
Friday, March 6, 2009
If you don't know what NAIS is, see the earlier post on it (title: 'Want Food Freedom?' OR under the label of: 'In The Know')
USDA COMMENT PERIOD ENDS MARCH 16
In January, the USDA proposed a rule to require farms and other properties where animals are raised to be registered in the federal NAIS database for existing federal disease control programs. The rule also sets the stage for future mandatory animal identification. If you haven't already submitted comments on this proposed rule, please be sure to do so before March 16! An easy way to comment online is through the Organic Consumers Association's automated system, at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/642/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=26665
Please be sure to personalize the letter! It can be as easy as a couple of sentences at the beginning stating who you are (for example, a farmer, consumer, property rights proponent) and why you care about NAIS.
CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON NAIS, MARCH 11
The U.S. House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry will hold a hearing on "animal identification programs" on Wednesday, March 11, 2009. This is the first time in several years that any Congressional Committee will hear testimony about NAIS! It is critical that the thousands of farmers and consumers who oppose NAIS make their voices heard in this process!
STEP 1: Before the Hearing:
At the end of the alert is a list of Subcommittee members. If one of the Subcommittee members is from your state, call that member. If your state does not have any representation on the Subcommittee, contact your own Representative and ask him or her to approach the Subcommittee to urge them to oppose NAIS. If you're not sure who represents you, go to http://www.congress.org
When you call, ask to speak to the staffer who handles agricultural issues, and talk with them about your concerns about NAIS. Use a brief personal story to explain how NAIS would impact you. Emphasize that you want them to ask hard questions of both the industry and USDA representatives, and to make sure that people representing those who oppose NAIS are also heard at the hearing.
STEP 2: At the Hearing:
If you are in the DC area, please try to come to the hearing!
WHEN: Wednesday, March 11th - 10:00 a.m.
WHERE: 1300 Longworth House Office Building (go to http://www.aoc.gov/cc/cobs/lhob.cfm for maps and parking information)
WHAT: Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry -- Public hearing to review animal identification systems.
The subcommittee will hear invited testimony only, so you won't be able to speak at the hearing. But it is still good for the subcommittee to know that a lot of people care enough about this issue to show up in person!
Immediately after the hearing, we encourage you to visit the Subcommittee members' offices. Be polite and concise during your visit. Let them know that you were at the hearing because you are against NAIS. Briefly bring up one or two points that you felt weren't covered at the hearing that show the problems with NAIS. Keep your visit short and thank them for their time.
STEP 3: After the Hearing:
You can submit written testimony to the subcommittee before the hearing, at the hearing, or up to 10 days after the hearing. Send your testimony to the Hearing Clerk, Jamie Mitchell, at Jamie.Mitchell@mail.house.gov Be sure to put "March 11 Hearing - Animal Identification Programs" in the subject line. Keep your comments clear, polite, and concise.
We will send out some guidance after the hearing for key points to make in your testimony, based on what is said at the hearing. If you are submitting comments before the hearing, you can draw ideas from the "Reasons to Stop NAIS" posted on the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund's site at http://www.ftcldf.org/nais.html (scroll down past the news items and lawsuit information) or from the comments submitted by FARFA on the USDA's proposed rule for NAIS, posted at: http://farmandranchfreedom.org/content/files/090202_FARFA_Comments_USDA_rule.pdf
Below are the Subcommittee members, their party and state, and phone numbers. You can also send an email by using this format: firstname.lastname@example.org We strongly recommend that you make at least your initial contact with the ag staffer with a telephone conversation.
Mike Rogers (R-AL), (p): 202-225-3261, (f): 202-226-8485
Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), (p): 202-225-6131, (f): 202-225-0819
Jim Costa (D-CA), (p): 202-225-3341, (f): 202-225-9308
Joe Baca (D-CA), (p): 202-225-6161, (f): 202-225-8671
Betsy Markey (D-CO), (p): 202-225-4676, (f): 202-225-5870
David Scott (Chair), (D-GA), (p): 202-225-2939, (f): 202-225-4628
Leonard Boswell (D-IA), (p): 202-225-3806, (f): 202-225-5608
Steve King (R-IA), (p): 202-225-4426, (f): 202-225-3193
Walt Minnick (D-ID), (p): 202-225-6611, (f): 202-225-3029
Frank Kratovil, Jr. (D-MD), (p): 202-225-5311, (f): 202-225-0254
Adrian Smith (R-NE), (p): 202-225-6435, (f): 202-225-0207
Tim Holden (D-PA), (p): 202-225-5546, (f): 202-226-0996
David P. Roe (R-TN), (p): 202-225-6356, (f): 202-225-5714
K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), (p): 202-225-3605 or 866-882-3811, (f): 202-225-1783
Randy Neugebauer, Ranking Minority Member (R-TX), (p): 202-225-4005 or 888-763-1611, (f): 202-225-9615
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), (p): 202-225-5431, (f): 202-225-9681
Steve Kagen (D-WI), (p): 202-225-5665, (f): 202-225-5729
For more information about NAIS, go to www.FarmAndRanchFreedom.org
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
--fewer food choices
--fewer local, grass-fed and organic options
--fewer small farmers/ranchers
--invasion of animal owner's personal privacy
--destruction of personal property right
--more government invasion
--higher food cost
Sounds like something we all look forward to doesn't it? This could very well be the scene across our landscape soon if we don't stop the efforts of our government (and big agribusiness) to put into place the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).
You may not of heard of NAIS yet (as the media isn't covering it) or if you have, you might think that it doesn't effect you as you don't have any animals. BUT if you like buying your food from local farmers, this system just might put them out of business which means you loose your food source which will ultimately give us all fewer choices and higher food prices as only the big guys will survive...so in the end, it does effect you! And to add insult to injury, if you have a few animals as pets, this will effect you all the more. This is not just a farmer/rancher issue--this is a food freedom issue!
There is a newly released, 8-minute video on the NAIS from Liberty Ark Coalition that does a very good job of explaining this invasion. To view video go to: http://www.libertyark.net/NAIS-new/NAIS%20Clip/
I would suggest after you view the video, that you poke around their website and read more about NAIS and become more familiar with it and see for your self how over reaching this is.
This program is at the moment voluntary (it's become a forced voluntary in some states) but the goal of the USDA is to make it mandatory for all.
WHAT IS NAIS?
---- A (short) background ----
The National Animal Identification System poses a serious threat to all farmers, ranchers, livestock owners, and companion-animal owners, whether they are organic or conventional, small or large, involved with animals for business or for pleasure. If it is made mandatory, every person with even one horse, cow, chicken, pig, goat, sheep, or virtually any other livestock animal on their premises will be required to register their homes and property into a database and subject their property and animals to government surveillance.
The USDA has been working for over five years to force NAIS onto American animal owners. NAIS is designed to identify and track each and every individual livestock and poultry animal owned by family farmers, hobby farmers, homesteaders, and pet owners across the country.
USDA claims that NAIS is a disease tracking program, but has refused to provide any support for its claims. In reality, NAIS will impose high costs and government surveillance on every farmer and animal owner for no significant benefits, and will likely force many small producers out of business. NAIS does nothing to improve food safety for consumers or prevent animal diseases. This program is a one-size-fits-all program developed by and for big Agribusiness.
NAIS will increase consolidation of our food supply in the hands of a few large companies and put the brakes on the growing movement toward local food systems.
A grassroots movement has already successfully stalled USDA's plans for NAIS, which originally called for the entire program (premises registration, animal identification, and tracking) to be mandatory by January 2009. It is imperative that people speak up to protect the right to farm and the right to choose our food supply!
Another website to check out that is also covering this NAIS issue-- http://www.farmandranchfreedom.org/
Monday, March 2, 2009
I do use a tad bit less than what the recipe calls for as there is also sweetness that comes for the raisins and/or dried fruit that you also add. We have gotten use to things being not as sweet that I can usually cut the sweetener down some in most recipes and it still turns out OK....plus it's more economical as I can make my sweeteners go further that way.
I have thought about it more than once that adding flaked coconut (unsweetened, of course) to this would be good too, but I've not done it yet. If you try this, you might want to add less oats to make up for the added dryness of the coconut.
One last thing--The darker grades of maple syrup do work better for baking/cooking as the maple flavor stands up better to the other ingredient.
1 c. butter, softened (I use 3/4 c. butter & 1/4 c. coconut oil, softened but not melted)
1/3 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/4- 2 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. raisins (I use a mixture of raisins and other dried fruit that I have on hand and it's usually ends up being a bit more than 1/2 cup.)
Mix butter (coconut oil too if using it) and sweeteners together then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix to combine. Drop about 1 1/2 tbsp. of dough onto greased or parchment lined baking sheet (***or see note below). Bake @ 350* for 15 minutes.
Yield: about 2 1/2 dozen
(***The cookies can be a bit crumbly so one day I decided to not make them drop cookies and try some thing different to see if that would help. I chilled the dough for a short while to make it a bit easier to work with, then instead of dropping it, I took a chunk of it and formed it into a flatten disk and put that on the cookie sheet. They are now more uniform and hold together so much better).