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General News    H3'ed 2/14/09

Monsanto and the Schoolmarm method of punishing farmers out of farming

Message Linn Cohen-Cole
2.14.09 Saturday about 9:00am
One thing after another is raining down on small farmers.  
NAIS which is insane on the face of it but has left farmers worrying it is about something much bigger and incredibly more threatening .  For sure the penalties , even for infractions are beyond anything anyone could being to handle.  Farmers it seems, face risks too great to run.
And then there are the buried regulations in the FDA which are criminalizing all aspects of farming by listing them as "sources of seed contamination" - a new contamination if ever there were one.  But seed cleaning equipment is listed and farmers are now supposed to only use what is approved, which is, again, beyond their capacity.  Where was there any contamination of seed, ever, from seed cleaning equipment which would necessitate a farmer giving up a perfectly good seed cleaner they made themselves and used for 40 years and which costs nothing now, to put in a building and equipment for a million and half dollars ... for each line of seed?  Never mind the carbon foot print of that versus an already existing seed cleaner.  The upshot of that is farmers are too poor to farm.
The game is simple - scare the public and then use "food safety" and "animal diseases" as the argument for systems that are onerous beyond human endurance.  What systems?  Industrial ones that a normal farmer can't afford to put in place with bureaucratic tasks that turn farming into something approaching filing out a complex tax return daily, and penalties that are greater than those imposed on felons.
The latest joke on farmers is peanuts.  The problem, like all the problems, are on the industrial side, but what comes from "peanuts" is not peanuts.
So, having whipped the country into a frenzy, here ere come two house bills - out of New York and suspiciously like Monsanto's friend Hillary Clinton's plan to centralize the USDA and FDA to save us from "contamination."  And just after Vilsack said it wasn't time to do such a thing but they have surely had  this in the works for sometime, this centralizing of corrupt power in the USDA and FDA, over our food.
Goodness they have got the country by the short-hairs on "contamination," running ads for one thing after another to sterilize our kitchens, our bathrooms, our carpets, our hands, our children even, to save us from it.  My favorite ad is the one of the little brother reaching over to hand his baby sister something but with gross green slimy "bacteria" growing on his hands.  Good grief.  Just ditch the boy and have done, because boys will be boys and get dirty and heaven only knows he might touch his baby sister again.  
Makes you wonder how we all managed to survive to grow up without all that sterilization.  And why kids are sicker now than they ever used to be.
Back to the bill.  The name is a marvel.  "Tracing and Recalling Agricultural Contamination Everywhere Act of 2009."
Scare them, but with what? they must have asked in the board rooms and agencies (is there a distinction anymore?).  "Peanuts!" someone (who will be greatly rewarded) suggests and they all laugh because it's so perfect - peanut butter being so American and something for the "kids."  That'll surely do the trick to scare the bejeesus out of families and set them up to want more regulations, not noticing farmers are already stuffed to the gills, stuffed beyond the gills, with them.  (The wonder is how that is even possible given how, on the other hand, corporations have been de-regulated?)
So, here comes yet another regulation, and a doozy.  It's included below for your edification and amusement - or horror - as the case may be.
But let us imagine for a moment that it was applied to you, Joe Blow, Norma Normal, in your own kitchen, for you to have a sense of what farmers are being asked to do - separate from NAIS and Premises ID and FDA regulations which are all on top of this.  
Okay, so you are going to cook and you haul in bags of food from the grocery, an orange rolls away and you retrieve it.  
"The traceability system required by subsection (a) shall require each article of food shipped in interstate commerce to be identified in a manner that enables the Secretary to retrieve the history, use, and location of the article through a recordkeeping and audit system or registered identification."
Okay, so you start unpacking the groceries, recording each and every item and where you are putting it in each cabinet or refrigerator shelf.  No big deal.  And extra hour maybe.
(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary may require that each person, firm, and corporation required to identify an article of food pursuant to subsection (b) maintain accurate records, as prescribed by the Secretary, regarding the purchase, sale, and identification of the article.
Oh, okay, now you also need to put down where you got the spam and beans and weiners and how much you paid and when (and in the case of kitchens, when you cooked and ate it).  Okay, okay, so while your spouse is putting things away, they' can call each item out to you and you can cross check it against the receipts and what it cost and where it's from and type all that into the computer, not just make a list like you'd started out to do.  Baby's crying.  Okay, you'll finish this up after dinner, sometime.  Should only take an hour.  Spouse is complaining y'all haven't even started dinner.  Someone barks it's not easy to get around to making dinner - the point of buying the food - when you gotta make sure there is no contamination.  But contamination must be stopped so dinner will just have to wait.
'(2) ACCESS- Each person, firm, and corporation described in paragraph (1) shall, at all reasonable times, on notice by a duly authorized representative of the Secretary, allow the representative to access to each place of business of the person, firm, or corporation to examine and copy the records described in paragraph (1).
Someone's going to be coming over to your house and going through your kitchen and your computer and copying things?  That's kind of nervy.  Wasn't there something about privacy in that bill?  How long is this going to go on for?
'(3) DURATION- Each person, firm, and corporation described in paragraph (1) shall maintain records required to be maintained under this subsection for such period of time as the Secretary prescribes.
As long as the Secretary says?  Who's the Secretary?  Is this FDA or USDA or both?  Your spouse looks it up.  If it's USDA, it's some guy named Vilsack and seems people don't trust him because he's close to some company called Monsanto which is said to be evil.  Well, that doesn't feel too good that he gets to decide things in your kitchen.
But you're very proud of the system you set up, it having ended taking 2 nights and a weekend rather than that hour after dinner you first figured, but it's in place now and during all that work it dawned on you that the less kinds of things you buy and the less often and at fewer places you go shopping, the easier things would be.  Even occurs to you if you buy only spam and nothing else, cutting down on all food diversity, you could save hours of inputting data but is that really cooking anymore?  
Anyway, you're ready for the inspection, having applied every skill you had learned in college and some accounting and even work with spreadsheets, too, and with the help of a neighbor who had experience with government.  But what if you made a mistake, somehow?

'(d) False Information- No person, firm, or corporation shall falsify or misrepresent to any other person, firm, or corporation, or to the Secretary, any information as to any location at which any article of food was held.

Is it false if it's by accident?  Looks like it.  You go back and check and see a small mistake.  The peanut butter - and you know peanut butter is big threat these days - was put away on the second shelf, not the first.  You make the correction on the computer.
'(e) Alteration or Destruction of Records- No person, firm, or corporation shall, without authorization from the Secretary, alter, detach, or destroy any records or other means of identification prescribed by the Secretary for use in determining the location at which any article of food was held.'.

Oh, no.  More than "Oh, no."  Suddenly, you are angry.  
You tell your spouse it isn't worth it to have the government in the kitchen, protecting you from contamination.  No dinners are getting cooked, the baby is constantly hungry but you're afraid to use up the baby food because it'll mean more shopping and having to write up where and when and what kind of food you bought and what shelf it got put away on and even when it got eaten and it's not damn worth it.  You start to rant that no one had gotten sick before but you sure are sick now and tired, too, of this.  How in heck are you supposed to do that endless and  detailed data collection and run a normal household?  
Your spouse, never one for government overkill, who had muttered throughout all the work you had been doing -  not so anyone could hear much beyond "meddling" and "plot" and "privacy" and "idiots" - was now watching you with jaw open as you kicked into high gear, going on about how your home was no dang corporation with employees and cubicles and data input people and bean counters out the whazoo and how in heck did a normal family ("we were once a normal family") get the kids to school and help with homework and take care of the baby and do all the other things it took to run a home, and just wanting to make a normal dinner and sit down together in peace over it, fall into this hell?  
And did your spouse notice, you ask (or holler, really, at that point), that all that "help" from the government had actually stopped all cooking from going on, and you didn't notice that was any help to anyone and had they lost their minds and who planned all this?  Was it a plot (your spouse starts nodding) meant to keep families from cooking altogether since it sure wasn't possible to keep up and it sure wasn't worth the struggle to even keep food in the house anymore?  
Welcome to American farming.
Now, multiply all that many times since for farmers it's their livelihood being put through this intentional wringer (designed by their corporate competition), their animals at risk of slaughter, their homes on the line, their land threatened, and they face $500,000 penalties for mistakes.  
Monsanto is behind those new bills, one can easily guess, since seed laws Monsanto has put in place around the country are designed in the same way - a sadistic schoolmarm's means of demanding from the trapped and detested student what they cannot possibly deliver, until they are broken, all the while the teacher enjoying the misery and mincing about how it will be good for them, teach them lessons they need to learn.  
Lessons they need to learn.  Farming, dear USDA and FDA and Monsanto and Hillary Clinton and those behind NAIS and "contamination everywhere" bills, has been safely in the hands of real farmers for millennia.  Indeed, it is only since the very recent historical advent of the "industrialization" of farming that food has gone to hell, and is now filled with pesticides and hormones and mercury and antibiotics and GMOs and ... contamination.
Upton Sinclair's book The Jungle was about industrial meat production, not small local producers.  Pasteurization was only needed to kill off pathogens in the disgusting industrial milk that was being produced.  Rural dairies were producing healthy milk - and even today, healthier than pasteurized by far .
But the industrial side has devilishly taken the "contamination" they created and are still creating, even intentionally (see Wayne Madsen's article on Gates, Monsanto and infected wheat or see what the drug companies and the poultry industry are doing in Asia ), and fear of illnesses which corporations send out in clanging, clashing, terrifying notes throughout the cultlure,using media as their orchestra, to drive whatever bills whatever they want.  Isn't that how we got the Patriot Act?  (And more and more beleive it had a false "set up" as well.)
Though industry created the food nightmare we are living in (unsure what is safe to eat, unsure what we are eating altogether, unsure of supplies, unsure of prices, starvation in places, profits rolling in for corporations), we have the ultimate industrial corrupter of food, Monsanto, behind the scenes acting the vicious schoolmarm, inflicting the 'Tracing and Recalling Agricultural Contamination 
Everywhere Act of 2009'  on good farmers who can't possibly comply and still farm, which is the point.  Because they are being trreated like disgusting bacteria, and are being "wiped out."
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Met libertarian and conservative farmers and learned an incredible amount about farming and nature and science, as well as about government violations against them and against us all. The other side of the fence is nothing like what we've been (more...)
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