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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/12/09

40 'Progressives' Support Industrial Destruction of Sustainable Farming

Message Yup Farming
There are 40 co-signers (many of them women) of the severely misnamed "food safety" bills. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) withdrew support, citing dangers to small farmers. The others remain.

The bills are "harmonized" with laws in the EU so we can simply look there to see what they cause. In the EU, those laws are rapidly and effectively wiping out local farming, erasing centuries of traditional culture, eliminating food security and destroying the environment. In their place, the laws are substituting giant corporate CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), sources of agony and illness for animals, and many illnesses for humans, including the swine flu and avian flu.  

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HR 814 sets that up.  HR 875 locks that into place. HR 759 arranges the globalization of it. The other bills add their own wicked features.

Here is what Democratic "progressives" support doing to dreams of a sustainable America, as described by a New York Times article, A U.S. Hog Giant Transforms Eastern Europe:

"Old customs and jobs are dying and the air itself is changing, transformed by an American newcomer, Smithfield Foods. Almost unnoticed by the rest of the continent, the agribusiness giant has moved into Eastern Europe with the force of a factory engine, assembling networks of farms, breeding pigs on the fast track, and slaughtering them for every bit of meat and muscle that can be squeezed into a sausage.

"The upheaval in the hog farm belts of Poland and Romania, the two largest E.U. members in Eastern Europe, ranks among the continent's biggest agricultural transformations.

"It also offers a window on how a Fortune 500 company based in Virginia operates in far-flung outposts. Smithfield has a joint venture in a Mexican hog farm located near where United Nations scientists are investigating a potential link between pigs and the new strain of influenza in humans. With the exact origins of the virus still in doubt, Smithfield emphasizes that the disease has struck none of its hogs or employees....

"In Romania, the number of hog farmers has declined 90 percent - to 52,100 in 2007 from 477,030 in 2003 - according to European Union statistics, with ex-farmers, overwhelmed by Smithfield's lower prices, often emigrating or shifting to construction. In their place, the company employs or contracts with about 900 people and buys grain from about 100 farmers.

"In Poland, there were 1.1 million hog farmers in 1996. That number fell 56 percent by 2008, as the advent of modern farming methods transformed agriculture, according to the Polish National Agricultural Chamber."
Author Barb Peterson writes:

"Section 210 of HR 875 requires that a national traceability system for each 'article of food through all stages of its production, processing, and distribution' be implemented, and HR 814 lays the system out in no uncertain terms. This traceability system applies to livestock, chickens, and eggs, and is supposed to safeguard our food supply. The problem is, no one other than concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) can reasonably comply with its requirements."

The America we know, full of fields with sheep or cattle grazing on them, made lovely by hillsides dotted with small farms, still blessed with small towns connected to traditions going back generations, is facing literal disaster.  The "green" desire to a return to food from local farmers is rooted in the wisdom and necessity of having local food supplies, in awareness of the safety of personally knowing the farmer responsible for that food and thus certainty of its cleanliness, in sureness of its lack of cruelty, and in scientific evidence of the importance of decentralized, small holdings of animals for human health.

Author Michael Pollan said, in a 2008 interview with Bill Moyers:

“[H]aving a highly centralized food system such as we have where one hamburger plant might be grinding 40 or 50 million burgers in a week, where one pre-bagged salad plant is washing 26 million servings of salad in a week, that's very efficient, but it's also very brittle or very precarious. Because if a microbe is introduced into that one plant, by a terrorist or by accidental contamination, millions of people will get sick. 

“You don't want to put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to your food safety. You want to decentralize. And Tommy Thompson, when he was departing as Secretary of Health and Human Services said, you know, one of the big surprises of his time in Washington was that no one had attacked, no terrorist had attacked the food supply because, and this is a quote, 'it would be so easy to do.'”
Progressive senators are proposing that we begin to regulate farms the way we regulate meat plants. That will put small farms out of business. So you see what happens as industrial agriculture fails and sickens us. The solutions promote more industrialization of agriculture. And that's what we need to resist. 

It is patent and obvious that there is only one sane way to go in terms of our food and farming.  Those industrial bills institute not only a massive but a forced move in the opposite direction.

So, who are the "progressives" lined up to co-sponsor anti-"food safety" bills written by and for industry, "progressives" not responding to thousands upon thousands of calls and emails and letters from the grassroots - their own constituents - begging them to withdraw?  

Who are the "progressives" supporting animal torture, human illness, the destruction of American farmers, our country's farmland, its water, its air and even its traditions? 
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