tagged w/ factory farms
Author of The New Good Life, Diet For A New America, and many other bestsellers
Posted: July 13, 2010 08:00 AM
The Brutality of Factory Farms: An Inside Look (VIDEO):
This past week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that will essentially prohibit, starting in 2015, any egg from being sold in the state that comes from caged hens. This bill became law 20 months after a majority of California voters approved Proposition 2, making it clear that concern for the living conditions of livestock is no longer the province of animal rights activists alone.
Recognizing how widespread concern about the humane treatment of farm animals has become, the California Milk Advisory Board has recently ramped up its 10-year "Happy Cow" advertising campaign with a new series of ads proclaiming that "Great milk comes from Happy Cows. Happy Cows come from California." These ads are now being shown across the nation.
Unfortunately, there are a few problems with the ads. For one, they weren't filmed in California at all. They were filmed in Auckland, New Zealand.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Current Milk Board ads claim that 99 percent of the state's dairy farms are family owned. But in order to arrive at this figure, they count as "dairy farms" rural households with one or two cows. Meanwhile, there are corporate-owned dairies in the San Joaquin Valley which have 15,000 or 20,000 cows. It is these far larger enterprises that produce the vast majority of California's milk.
My concern, let me emphasize, is not with small-scale family farms. I have no problem with the many hard-working families who treat their cows well, take care of the land and try to bring a healthy product to market. My problem is with the much larger agribusiness enterprises, the factory farms to whom the animals in their care are nothing but sources of revenue.
Thanks to the practices they employ, the amount of milk produced yearly by the average California cow is nearly 3,000 pounds more than the national average. This increased production may seem like a good thing, but it is achieved at great cost to the animals. The cows are routinely confined in extremely unnatural conditions, injected with hormones, fed antibiotics, and in general treated with all the compassion of four legged milk pumps. Roughly one third of California's cows suffer from painful udder infections, and more than half suffer from other infections and illnesses.
Although genetically engineered bovine growth hormone is banned in many countries including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and much of the European Union, it is widely used in California's largest dairy operations to increase milk production. Unfortunately, it also increases udder infections and lameness in the cows, markedly raises the amount of pus found in milk, and may increase the risk of cancer in consumers.
The natural lifespan of a dairy cow is about 25 years, but one-fourth of California's dairy cows are slaughtered each year (typically at four or five years old), because they've become crippled from painful foot infections or calcium depletion, or simply because they can no longer produce the unnaturally high amounts of milk required of them.
The Milk Board ads present the California dairy industry as a bucolic enterprise that operates in lush, grassy pastures. Some of the ads employ the slogan "So much grass, so little time." But California's dairy industry is concentrated in the dry and barren Central Valley. Here, the cows are typically kept in overcrowded, dirt feedlots. Some never see a blade of grass in their entire lives.
The ads show calves in meadows talking happily to their mothers. But the calves born to California dairy cows typically spend only 24 hours with their mothers, and some do not even get that much. Here is a video that reveals what actually happens to the calves:
http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=http%3A//www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DTEGw8iFbG5I%26has_verified%3D1John Robbins Author of The New Good Life, Diet For A New America, and many other... more
Not only is meat hard on the environment, a lot of conventional meat and dairy production is cruel to the animals involved. Animals in factory farms live in horrendous conditions, receiving copious amounts of antibiotics to mitigate the diseases that these conditions breed.
If you want to do your part to help these farm animals, there are a few things you can do:
http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2010/07/06/help-end-farm-animal-abuse/Not only is meat hard on the environment, a lot of conventional meat and dairy... more
In a groundbreaking legal settlement, the EPA has agreed to identify and investigate thousands of factory farms that have been avoiding government regulation for water pollution.
June 3, 2010
Photo Credit: Farm Sanctuary
In a legal settlement that could affect the entire U.S. meat industry, the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to identify and investigate thousands of factory farms that have been avoiding government regulation for water pollution with animal waste.
The settlement requires the agency to propose a rule on greater information gathering on factory farms within the next 12 months. It will require the approximately 20,000 domestic factory farms to report such information as how they dispose of manure and other animal waste.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Waterkeeper Alliance filed the suit in 2009 over a rule that exempted thousands of factory farms from taking steps to minimize water pollution from the animal waste they generate.
"Thousands of factory farm polluters threaten America's water with animal waste, bacteria, viruses and parasites that can make people sick," said Jon Devine, an attorney with the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council.
"Many of these massive facilities are flying completely under the radar. EPA doesn't even know where they are," said Devine.
More than 30 years ago, Congress identified factory farms as water pollution sources to be regulated under the Clean Water Act's permit program.
But under a Bush administration regulation challenged by the environmental groups in this lawsuit, large facilities were able to escape government regulation by claiming, without government verification, that they do not discharge into waterways protected by the Clean Water Act.
Under the settlement reached May 26, the EPA will initiate a new national effort to track down factory farms operating without permits and determine if they must be regulated.
The specific information that EPA will require from individual facilities will be determined after a period of public comment. But the results of that investigation will enable the agency and the public to create stronger pollution controls in the future and make sure facilities are complying with current rules.
"The EPA's rules have failed to protect our rivers and lakes from polluting factory farms," said Ed Hopkins, director of Sierra Club's Environmental Quality Program. "Gathering more information to document factory farms' pollution will lay the groundwork for better protection of our waters."
The National Pork Producers Council expressed "deep frustration and anger" over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's continuing efforts "to develop costly agricultural regulations that provide few if any additional environmental benefits."
"With this one-sided settlement, EPA yanked the rug out from under America's livestock farmers," said Michael Formica, NPPC's chief environmental counsel. "NPPC is looking at all appropriate legal responses to EPA's disappointing course of action."
Factory farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding operations, CAFOs, confine animals on an industrial scale and produce massive amounts of manure and other waste that can pollute waterways with dangerous contaminants.
These CAFOs apply liquid animal waste on land, which runs off into waterways, killing fish, spreading disease, and contaminating drinking water. The plaintiff groups cite EPA estimates that pathogens, such as E. coli, are responsible for 35 percent of the nation's impaired river and stream miles, and factory farms are one of the most common pathogen sources.
"This agreement sets the stage for new Clean Water Act permitting measures that will add to producers' costs, drive more farmers out of business, increase concentration in livestock production to comply and hurt rural economies," said Randy Spronk, a Minnesota pork producer who heads NPPC's environmental committee. "And the measures will do nothing really to improve water quality.
"Additionally," said Spronk, "the settlement was negotiated in private and without consultation or input from the regulated farming community. This flies in the face of the Obama administration's pledges to operate government more transparently. And, in this economy, the administration should be enacting measures that create jobs, not implementing regulations that put American farmers out of business."
Today there are more than 67,000 pork operations compared with nearly three million in the 1950s. Farms have grown in size; 53 percent of them now produce 5,000 or more pigs per year.
"The record is clear -- large CAFO operations, and many medium and small operations, commonly discharge pollutants into the surrounding environment," said Waterkeeper Alliance attorney Hannah Connor. "What is also clear is that if we want to continue to drink, fish and enjoy water that is not contaminated with raw animal excrement, these discharges must be stopped."
"We believe that the terms of this settlement will help reverse this industry's history of bad behavior by improving implementation and enforcement of the law," Connor said.
Litigation brought by these three groups has forced the EPA to revise its CAFO rules twice within the past decade to tighten the pollution control requirements on these facilities.In a groundbreaking legal settlement, the EPA has agreed to identify and investigate... more
Excerpts of Robert Cheeke's talk, in regard to going vegan.
Listening to members of the Senate subcommittee on investigations interrogate Goldman Sachs executives, I couldn't help but think, "chicken." And then, "where's the beef?"
Not because the executives parried, ducked, and even drew out their syllables (much to Sen. Susan Collins's frustration) during their ten-hour grilling. But because the white shoe investment bank and securities firm has, in recent years, entered the messy world of global agribusiness.
That's right: Goldman Sachs is in the business of factory farming. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised: in the late 18th century, the area around Wall Street housed slaughterhouses and tanneries. The word capitalism itself is rooted in the trade of (live)stock measured by head (Latin: capita) of cattle. Nonetheless, the parallels between the killings made on Wall Street then and now are not only eerie, but consequential. Just as the securitized debt deals Goldman was hawking may be, in Warren Buffett's words, "financial weapons of mass destruction," putting the whole economic system at risk of collapse, factory farming carries a parallel risk -- of environmental destruction and exploitation of resources, prospects for food security, and animals, all on a mass scale.
Unfortunately, the Senate inquiry into Goldman's alleged malfeasance is unlikely to question why the company in 2008 decided to acquire ten intensive poultry farms in China's Hunan and Fujian provinces for $300 million. While Goldman isn't running the farms itself (that's outsourced) it retains control over the prices. "So for the record, that's: U.S. mortgages = bad . . . Asian livestock = good," is how the website Business Insider described the deal.
This isn't the firm's first foray into this arena. Goldman is also principal owner of Burger King, joining Bain and Texas Pacific in 2002 in a $2.26 billion takeover of the fast food giant. Labor activists have criticized Goldman for the poverty wages earned by full-time Burger King workers, even as the firm continues to pay out billions in bonuses, including during the great recession.
In China, Goldman may well be producing chicken for its own restaurants, since Burger King has 25 Chinese outlets. In recent decades, both fast food and U.S.-style factory farms that house thousands of animals in tiny cages or stalls in indoor sheds have become increasingly common in China. But such facilities, like the ones Goldman now owns, forfeit any semblance of animal welfare and have immense environmental and social costs.
Why would Goldman want to own factory farms? Obviously, it sees an opportunity to make money, no matter the consequences. Meat consumption in China is rising rapidly; since 1980, it's quadrupled. Tyson, Smithfield, and other leading "protein producers" are active in the country, seeking new sources of profit by putting the proverbial chicken in 1.3 billion Chinese pots. Goldman must have wanted a piece of that pot, too.
Goldman's poultry purchase could be labeled with the epithet Sen. Carl Levin used repeatedly at the hearings riffing on a Goldman employee's email description of one of the firm's securities schemes (a "shitty deal").
According to Wu Weixiang, an associate professor at China's Zhejiang University's Agriculture College, "Domestic animal and poultry waste has become a major source of environmental pollution." Indeed, China's billions of farmed animals produce an estimated 2.7 billion tons of manure a year--three-and-a-half times industrial solid waste levels--and runoff from livestock facilities has led to a significant "dead zone" in the South China Sea, akin to that in the Gulf of Mexico, which is also the result of agriculture.
The poultry deal also contradicts a Goldman business principle. "Our responsibility for environmental stewardship does not fluctuate with changing economic conditions," the firm's 2008 Environmental Report states. "We hope our work continues to inspire action and creative market-based solutions that can help our environment endure and thrive.
Only three percent of China's large and medium-sized livestock operations have facilities to treat animal wastes, according to Xu Cheng, a professor at China Agricultural University. Do Goldman's?
Just a year and a half ago, Goldman was kept afloat by billions of dollars in U.S. government funds. Does that mean U.S. taxpayer dollars subsidized cruel, polluting, climate-heating factory farms in China? Even if the connection isn't direct, what are we to make of an elite private equity firm like Goldman helping expand industrial-scale animal facilities?
cont.Listening to members of the Senate subcommittee on investigations interrogate Goldman... more
A new Mercy For Animals investigation is pulling back the curtains on the largest dairy factory farm in New York State Willet Dairy in Locke.
In early 2009 an MFA undercover investigator worked at the mega-dairy, secretly documenting egregious acts of animal cruelty, including neglect, with a hidden camera.
Thankfully, compassionate consumers can choose to withdraw their support of these abusive industries by adopting a vegan diet.
Each time we eat we can choose kindness over cruelty. Visit ChooseVeg.com for dairy-free recipes.
Evidence gathered during the investigation reveals:
* Cows with bloody open wounds, prolapsed uteruses, pus-filled infections, and swollen joints, apparently left to suffer without veterinary care
* "Downed" cows those too sick or injured to even stand left to suffer for weeks before dying or being killed
* Workers hitting, kicking, punching, and electric-shocking cows and calves
* Calves having their horns burned off without painkillers, as a worker shoved his fingers into the calves' eyes to restrain them
* Calves having their tails cut off a painful practice condemned by the American Veterinary Medical Association as cruel and unnecessary
* Newborn calves forcibly dragged away from their mothers by their legs, causing emotional distress to both mother and calf
* Cows living in overcrowded sheds on manure-coated concrete flooring
* Workers injecting cows with a controversial bovine growth hormone, used to increase milk productionA new Mercy For Animals investigation is pulling back the curtains on the largest... more
Too bad the cartoon itself is so lame, but the message is very, VERY strong.
This girl, "Braceface," visits a meat-packing plant!
Part OneToo bad the cartoon itself is so lame, but the message is very, VERY strong. This... more
The chicken and pork industries have wrought unprecedented changes in bird and swine flu. Billions could die in a deadly flu pandemic, the likes of which we have never seen. -- Greger very clearly delineates how a virus begins, mutates, and becomes dangerous. As with so many problems we are seeing lately -- environmental or health -- factory farmed meat seems to be a big part of the cause. -- -- Studies have shown that measures as simple as providing straw for pigs so they don't have the immune-crippling stress of living on bare concrete their whole lives can significantly cut down on swine flu transmission rates. Such a minimal act--providing straw--yet we often deny these animals even this modicum of mercy, both to their detriment and, potentially, to ours as well. --- --- The American Public Health Association, the largest organization of public health professionals in the world, has called for a moratorium on factory farms. In fact the APHA journal, the American Journal of Public Health, published an editorial going beyond just calling for an end to factory farms. --- --- It questioned the prudence of raising so many animals in the first place: "It is curious...that changing the way humans treat animals--most basically, ceasing to eat them or, at the very least, radically limiting the quantity of them that are eaten -- is largely off the radar as a significant preventive measure. -- Such a change, if sufficiently adopted or imposed, could still reduce the chances of the much-feared influenza epidemic. It would be even more likely to prevent unknown future diseases that, in the absence of this change, may result from farming animals intensively and from killing them for food. Yet humanity does not consider this option.... --- Those who consume animals not only harm those animals and endanger themselves, but they also threaten the well-being of other humans who currently or will later inhabit the planet.... -- It is time for humans to remove their heads from the sand and recognize the risk to themselves that can arise from their maltreatment of other species."
(click on the link to access the link to the full article)The chicken and pork industries have wrought unprecedented changes in bird and swine... more
New Yorker writer Michael Specter, on his first visit to a chicken farm:
"I was almost knocked to the ground by the overpowering smell of feces and ammonia. My eyes burned and so did my lungs, and I could neither see nor breathe….There must have been thirty thousand chickens sitting silently on the floor in front of me. They didn’t move, didn’t cluck. They were almost like statues of chickens, living in nearly total darkness, and they would spend every minute of their six-week lives that way."New Yorker writer Michael Specter, on his first visit to a chicken farm: "I... more
Help Get IDA's Undercover TV On The Air In Your Town!
Undercover TV is an innovative television series that exposes the extreme animal cruelty deliberately hidden from the American public.
This revolutionary new half-hour television program produced by IDA takes viewers where other shows won't - inside of factory farms, vivisection laboratories, fur operations, puppy mills, and other exploitive industries to show people the truth about the suffering of animals behind the scenes.
Most Americans have never seen how animals used for food, clothing or scientific experiements are treated because those who profit from their suffering keep them hidden behind locked and guarded doors. By showing happy animated animals on TV commercials, they depict the treatment of these animal inaccurately.
If your city doesn't yet air Undercover TV, take action by volunteering for our nationwide video distribution network. As a resident of any city, you can submit episodes of Undercover TV to your community public access station.
This simple form of activism is extremely powerful because each episode of Undercover TV that is aired can potentially wake thousands of people up to the reality of animal exploitation - something most television viewers would otherwise never see.
If you would like to bring Undercover TV to your area, contact email@example.com and we'll show you how.Help Get IDA's Undercover TV On The Air In Your Town! Undercover TV is an... more
Voice for Animals Humane Society in Edmonton Canada has produced three short slide shows focusing on three aspects of factory farming - factory farmed cows, chickens, and pigs. For more information on factory farming, and on V4A, please visit www.v4a.org.Extraordinary video. Voice for Animals Humane Society in Edmonton Canada has... more
FACTORY FARMING: Cows
Factory farming is about treating animals like commodities, dealing with them in bulk and ensuring swift through-put and a low-priced final product. Milk is such a taken-for-granted part of our diet that people seldom stop to wonder how this product gets into their homes.
Read more at Suite101: FACTORY FARMING: Cows | Suite101.com http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/green_home/62370#ixzz0ZQc1ZeKCFACTORY FARMING: Cows Factory farming is about treating animals like commodities,... more
Making the case for why environmentalism and health care are mutually supportive issues with a common enemy -- polluters.
http://blog.cleanwateraction.org/2009/11/19/connecting-the-dots-between-environment-and-health-care-reform/Making the case for why environmentalism and health care are mutually supportive... more
With cases documented in more than 170 countries, the global swine flu pandemic that erupted in spring 2009 remains a serious public health problem. Caused by a strain of H1N1 influenza virus, which is normally found in pigs, the flu now known as novel H1N1 has so far been less severe than regular seasonal flu in terms of deaths and hospitalizations. Yet given its remarkable capacity for human-to-human transmission and a widespread lack of immunity among potentially exposed people, it’s likely the number of cases will rise during the flu season later this fall and winter, according to many public health experts. Given that possibility, enormous resources are being mobilized to address novel H1N1, with an emphasis on vaccine development, education, and efforts to its limit its movements among human communities.
Yet one potential source of the original outbreak—swine farming in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)—has received comparatively little attention by public health officials. CAFOs house animals by the thousands in crowded indoor facilities. But the same economy-of-scale efficiencies that allow CAFOs to produce affordable meat for so many consumers also facilitate the mutation of viral pathogens into novel strains that can be passed on to farm workers and veterinarians, according to Gregory Gray, director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
“When respiratory viruses get into these confinement facilities, they have continual opportunity to replicate, mutate, reassort, and recombine into novel strains,” Gray explains. “The best surrogates we can find in the human population are prisons, military bases, ships, or schools. But respiratory viruses can run quickly through these [human] populations and then burn out, whereas in CAFOs—which often have continual introductions of [unexposed] animals—there’s a much greater potential for the viruses to spread and become endemic.”
Gray says workers exposed routinely to livestock can pass these zoonotic infections—which transmit readily among humans and animals—on to the wider public. However, public health agencies that monitor risks from zoonotic infections routinely overlook CAFO workers, according to Ellen Silbergeld, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. And animal disease sampling data collected by the food animal industry typically are not shared publicly, according to Gray, although such data could reveal how novel pathogens evolve in CAFOs and how they might move among animals, workers, and the broader community. Experts believe that without these data, society has a diminished capacity to detect and respond to new zoonotic threats before they become more widespread.
end of excerptWith cases documented in more than 170 countries, the global swine flu pandemic that... more
My family has farmed in Missouri for over a century and I currently raise livestock and grain on 800 acres in Howard County, Mo. But folks like me always seem to get drowned out in Washington, D.C, by commodity groups purporting to represent my interests. The American Farm Bureau bills itself as the “voice of agriculture.” A seemingly innocent-sounding group called the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) calls itself “the only nationwide expression of dairy farmers.” These organizations spend millions in lobbying and donating money to politicians. In the halls of Congress, in the federal agencies, and in presidential administrations, representatives from these groups exert undue control over the agenda for food and agriculture policy.
It is near impossible to convince D.C. politicians that these corporate interests do not represent the interests of family farmers. Until now. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently concluded 13 listening sessions to hear farmers’ input on the despised National Animal Identification System (NAIS) that calls for us to electronically tag and track the movements of every one of our animals. Factory farms, however, are allowed one group lot ID for their thousands of animals. Over $130 million of taxpayer money has been wasted on this radical, corporate-driven bureaucracy that originated from the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, a group comprised of – surprise, surprise – the Farm Bureau, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), NMPF and agribusinesses such as Cargill. Only a gigantic outcry from farmers has stopped NAIS from becoming mandatory by its proposed 2009 date.
At listening sessions across the country, including one in Missouri attended by over 300 people, nearly 80 percent to 90 percent of producers were united in their adamant disapproval of NAIS and how it would do nothing to address animal disease or food safety. The few folks in the crowd willing to go on record for their support of NAIS were uniformly from the likes of NPPC, Farm Bureau and NMPF allies. That should tell the media, Congress, USDA and the Obama administration to quit listening to these interest groups and think of them as representing family farmers!
Why do we have such a broken food system that allows for deadly E. coli in our meat and now peanut butter? Why have factory farms been allowed to proliferate like viruses in rural America? Because these interest groups have been allowed to use their false façade representing America’s “farmers” to con politicians into buying their disastrous policies, while simultaneously conning the media into thinking that they speak on behalf of those farmers. Now they have conned USDA, President Obama and members of Congress into thinking we need a mandatory NAIS program.
end of excerptMy family has farmed in Missouri for over a century and I currently raise livestock... more
Modern factory farms have created a 'perfect storm' environment for powerful viruses
A swelling number of scientists believe swine flu has not happened by accident. No: they argue that this global pandemic – and all the deaths we are about to see – is the direct result of our demand for cheap meat. So is the way we produce our food really making us sick as a pig?
At first glance, this seems wrong. All through history, viruses have mutated, and sometimes they have taken nasty forms that scythe through the human population. This is an inescapable reality we just have to live with, like earthquakes and tsunamis. But the scientific evidence increasingly suggests that we have unwittingly invented an artificial way to accelerate the evolution of these deadly viruses – and pump them out across the world. They are called factory farms. They manufacture low-cost flesh, with a side-dish of viruses to go.
* First swine flu transfer case confirmed
* Swine flu Q & A: Is a pandemic inevitable or is threat being hyped?
* Mexico's epidemiology boss faults WHO
* Farmers fear pigs may get swine flu from people
* Students get anti-viral drugs after another flu outbreak
* Chemists stay open as Mexico closes
* In pictures: Swine flu
To understand how this might happen, you have to compare two farms. My grandparents had a pig farm in the Swiss mountains, with around 20 swine at any one time. What happened there if, in the bowels of one of their pigs, a virus mutated and took on a deadlier form? At every stage, the virus would meet stiff resistance from the pigs' immune systems. They were living in fresh air, on the diet they evolved with, and without stress – so they had a robust ability to fight back. If the virus did take hold, it would travel only as far as the sick hog could walk. So if the virus would then have around 20 other pigs to spread and mutate in – before it would hit the end of its own evolutionary path, and die off. If it was a really lucky, plucky virus, it might make it to market – where it would come up against more healthy pigs living in small herds. It had little opportunity to fan out across a large population of pigs or evolve a strain that could be transmitted to humans.
Now compare this to what happens when a virus evolves in a modern factory farm. In most swine farms today, 6,000 pigs are crammed snout-to-snout in tiny cages where they can barely move, and are fed for life on an artificial pulp, while living on top of cess-pools of their own stale faeces.
Instead of having just 20 pigs to experiment and evolve in, the virus now has a pool of thousands, constantly infecting and reinfecting each other. The virus can combine and recombine again and again. The ammonium from the waste they live above burns the pigs' respiratory tracts, making it easier yet for viruses to enter them. Better still, the pigs' immune systems are in free-fall. They are stressed, depressed, and permanently in panic, making them far easier to infect. There is no fresh air or sunlight to bolster their natural powers of resistance. They live in air thick with viral loads, and they are exposed every time they breathe in.
As Dr Michael Greger, director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States, explains: "Put all this together, and you have a perfect storm environment for these super-strains. If you wanted to create global pandemics, you'd build as many of these factory farms as possible. That's why the development of swine flu isn't a surprise to those in the public health community. In 2003, the American Public Health Association – the oldest and largest in world – called for a moratorium of factory farming because they saw something like this would happen. It may take something as serious as a pandemic to make us realise the real cost of factory farming." continued...Modern factory farms have created a 'perfect storm' environment for powerful... more
And if Michael "Monsanto" Taylor states their concerns are overblown, then you know there is something to be worried about. The fact that the words "food safety" were used as part of the title of this bill to thwart criticism is a political ploy that is glaringly so obvious. Make no mistake about it, because of this bill small farmers will suffer on some scale while the real culprits (industrial agriculture and factory farms) once again get a free ride.
Members of a powerful House committee and farmers raised alarms Thursday about a food-safety bill steamrolling through Congress, saying it could hurt small farmers, conflict with organic growing methods and trump efforts to boost wildlife habitat and water and air quality.
Overshadowed by the health care debate on Capitol Hill, the bill is part of a broad effort backed by the Obama administration and consumer groups to tighten food-safety rules after national outbreaks of food-borne illness caused by salmonella, E. coli and other pathogens in cookie dough, peanuts, produce and beef.
The Food Safety Enhancement Act by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, would give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate all farms. It has provoked uproar among small farmers.
"There's been a battle cry in North Carolina, that the FDA is coming onto the farm," said Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees most farms, but regulates only meat, poultry and egg safety. FDA oversees other food but generally has not extended its reach to farms.
The legislation divides large and small growers in California, where most of the nation's fresh produce is grown.
Drew McDonald, head of quality systems for Taylor Farms in Salinas, the world's largest salad processor, said he favors FDA regulation as a way to fight the proliferation of private, often unscientific, food safety rules imposed by large buyers.
Farmers around Monterey Bay say that many of the rules, which are kept secret, have forced them to poison wildlife, destroy habitat and remove vegetative buffers that naturally filter pollutants and pathogens.
A Chronicle report Monday on environmental damage in the Salinas Valley caused by the rules was cited in testimony at Thursday's Agriculture Committee hearing.
Large growers have devised a Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement based on the best available science to try to thwart the private rules, but progress in getting large buyers to accept them has been slow.
Small growers say they are not the source of the problem, which is confined almost entirely to mass-processed food, including bagged greens intended as a convenience to consumers.
Organic growers fear food-safety rules that could mandate production techniques banned in organic agriculture or duplicate rules they already follow.
Nicolas Maravell, a small organic farmer in Maryland, said the ancient practice of raising livestock and food on the same farm is banned under the FDA's current voluntary rules. He said the rules put sustainable farming methods at risk.
"This is a fast-moving train," Maravell said. "Nobody wants to stand in front of legislation that has the words 'food safety' in it."
end of excerpt.And if Michael "Monsanto" Taylor states their concerns are overblown, then... more