Thank you for your patience with the high volume of email alerts in the last couple of weeks! It’s been a very busy time, and it’s likely to stay busy for a while longer as the Farm Bill and Agricultural Appropriations Bill move forward.
Your calls do make a difference. Even if we lose a vote on an issue, each legislator we influence is one step closer to winning next time. The problems with our food system have developed over several decades, and it will take time and a lot of hard work to make real change. Thank you for being part of this important work.
ANIMAL ID UPDATE
The Weston A. Price Foundation continues to try to raise awareness about the problem with USDA’s Animal ID rule. We sent out a press release last week that was picked up by several news outlets:
Please take a moment and share the press release with your friends and send it to your local newspaper. The full text of the release is also copied at the end of this email.
In Congress, the House Appropriations Committee included a statement in its report on the Agricultural Appropriations bill requiring USDA to limit the financial burdens on producers and address producers’ concerns about privacy and liability. The report also directs the USDA to provide the Committee with quarterly reports “with specific cost information, assessments of progress, and any deviations from the proposed scheduled completion dates.”
This language at least provides Congressional recognition of the producers’ concerns with the Animal ID program. But this general statement does not go far enough – particularly since USDA’s cost estimates continue to be deeply flawed and seriously underestimate the costs to small farmers and ranchers and poultry owners.
We will continue to work to protect our farmers against this overly burdensome plan. So stay tuned for future action alerts on how you can help.
FARM BILL UPDATE
Thank you for all of your calls on the Senate Farm Bill! Unfortunately, despite strong grassroots support, the Senate leadership did not allow Senator Tester’s Seeds and Breeds Amendment (guaranteeing funding for non-GMO research) or Senator Paul’s Raw Milk Amendment (removing the ban on interstate transport of raw milk) to be voted on.
The amendment we opposed – Senator Feinstein’s amendment to impose new regulations on laying hen operations – was also kept from a vote. Although we recognize the problems with the factory farm conditions, Feinstein’s bill could have unintended consequences for pastured farmers due to labeling and euthanasia provisions.
We also urged phone calls in support of two amendments that were scheduled for a vote. We warned you that these amendments were both long shots, but they are important issues. Unfortunately, both the DeMint Checkoff Amendment (to stop mandatory Checkoff programs) and the Sanders GMO Labeling Amendment were defeated. You can see how your Senators voted on each amendment at: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&;session=2&vote=00138 (DeMint Amendment) and http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&;session=2&vote=00161 (Sanders Amendment).
For both of these amendments, please be sure to thank your Senators if they voted yes. If your Senators voted no, call and ask their staffers for an explanation and urge them to reconsider their position on these issues.
If you live in Montana or Kentucky, please also take a moment to send a special thank you to Senator Tester and Senator Paul for trying to bring their important amendments to the full Senate. You can find contact information for the Senators at www.Senate.gov
Again, thank you for both your patience with the multiple emails and your commitment to protecting our farmers who are producing nutrient-dense foods.
Washington, DC (June 19, 2012) – Proposed government regulations may threaten the viability of small scale producers and raise the cost of locally produced food, say local food advocates.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scuttled its plans for a National Animal Identification System (NAIS) following a storm of protests from thousands of farmers and consumers. But just two years later, the agency is pushing through a modified version of the traceability program that still fails to address the concerns about the costs and burdens it will impose.
As proposed by the USDA, the new program would require every chicken that is transported across state lines to be officially identified. Provisions for “group identification” are included but will most likely only apply to large vertically integrated operations, while those who own small numbers of poultry will be required to individually identify their birds.
“Thousands of people buy day-old chicks from out-of-state hatcheries every year and will be subject to new federal regulations,” notes Sally Fallon Morell, President of the nutrition education non-profit Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), and a champion of local fresh food for its nutritional value. “The USDA has completely failed to calculate the costs the new regulations will impose, in both out-of-pocket expenses and red tape, on small poultry farmers and backyard chicken owners who have a few birds for their own use and enjoyment.”
Cattle owners would also be subject to requirements to officially identify cattle that cross state lines. Associated businesses, such as livestock sale barns and veterinarians, would be subject to extensive new recordkeeping requirements as well.
The WAPF joined in a letter sent by over a dozen consumer and farming organizations to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, objecting to the USDA’s failure to properly assess the costs of the program. As noted in the letter, research done at the North Dakota State University indicated that the costs to cattle producers could be more than five times greater per animal than the USDA’s estimate and amount to hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
“The agency woefully underestimated the cost to livestock producers, for example, assuming farmers could tag a 1,000 lb cow in just one minute, as if they were handling a case of beans,” continued Ms. Fallon Morell.
WAPF promotes consumer access to local foods from farmers committed to food safety, humane animal husbandry and rich soil.
“By adding yet more unnecessary regulation, the proposed animal tracking scheme will mean fewer options and higher food prices for the final consumer,” concluded Ms. Fallon Morell. “The burden falls hardest on small producers, those least like to have problems with animal health and safety.”
The Weston A. Price Foundation is a 501(c)3 non profit, with 572 local chapters and over 14,000 members, worldwide.
Contact: Judith McGeary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Judith@Farm AndRanchFreedom.org, 512-484-8821
Kimberly Hartke, Publicist, Weston A. Price Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org, 703-860-2711