Sunday, January 23, 2011

Food & Ag Freedom Discussion Held

SPRINGFIELD - On Tuesday of last week (1-18) about 200 people met at the Springfield Livestock Marketing Center for a discussion about Food and Agriculture Freedom. The discussion was sponsored by Greater Ozarks Property Rights Congress, Lawrence County Chapter. The speaker who led the discussion was Doreen Hannes. Hannes authors the Web log "Truth Farmer." She has been described on the Internet as an agriculture expert, but by way of introduction, following is what the flyer passed out at the meeting said about Hannes:

"Doreen Hannes has been a full time volunteer advocate for independent agriculture since 2005 and is a well-respected leader in the national movement to halt the National Animal Identification System, now known as ADT (Animal Disease Traceability). Doreen has written extensively on the topic of NAIS as well as authored and co-authored several white papers on NAIS and other topics affecting the consolidation of agriculture."

The main topic of the discussion last Tuesday, however, was House Resolution 2751. President Obama signed that resolution into law on January 4, after the Senate passed it as the "FDA Food Safety Modernization Act" on December 19, 2010.

Now, most of us take the responsibility to feed our families very seriously. It's interesting that few of us spend much time pondering the laws which govern our ability to feed ourselves. When it comes to an issue so vital as whether we will have the potential to feed ourselves in the future, we owe it to ourselves and our families to educate ourselves about the affects of this law on food freedom in our local areas, our state, nation and broader global human family.

While I could extensively quote Doreen Hannes and her comments regarding H.R. 2751, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, (or Public Law No. 111-353) I am somewhat reluctant to do so because I haven't had much opportunity to look at the Act myself. I don't, and I don't want the readers of JackeHammer, to leave the responsibility of understanding and analysing what this law will mean to us and our families in the future to someone we do not know, but I will say, based on what Hannes discussed, I am somewhat alarmed by what I have heard and have printed out the 119 page law so that I may scrutinize it at my leisure later. That is what I hope to inspire YOU to do. Then, maybe after you have looked at it Section by 405 sections you can share your thoughts here, in the comment section and we can continue the discussion here.

Hannes believes the law will have a devastating effect on local farmers. She said the law puts us under a method of good agricultural practices that, "...will put virtually everybody out of the agriculture business....It's nothing less than a recipe for global famine," she said. Hannes also believes, along with a growing number of people, the best way to meet the needs of our families is through our own local communities.

The Well-Fed Neighbor Alliance, (WFNA) which has been actively involved in local food issues in and around the Springfield area, thinks the best way to ensure the safety and security of our food supply is to further localize it. WFNA even pushes the idea that people should know their farmer personally, visit his or her farm of choice, and gain an intimate knowledge of the growing and processing of their own food.

WFNA has been working to establish a farmer's cooperative in our local region. The FDA Food Modernization Act will effect that cooperative if the Alliance's dreams come to fruition. "The WFNA Cooperative would have to comply (with the Food Modernization Act) so is very much effected (by it)," Eric Vought said. Vought is an author of "The County Restoration Handbook," a project of the Well Fed Neighbor Alliance Hosted by The Statesmen for our Constitutional Republic.

Many of the people in the crowd at the meeting were interested in how they could take action in opposition to the new law. Termed-out State Representative Mark Wright was in attendance and offered some options:

1. De-fund the bill through the U.S. House of Representatives
2. A lawsuit could be filed by farmers who have standing to do so
3. File a state bill opting Missouri out statutorily.
4. Missouri citizens could pass either a statutory or constitutional initiative petition on the ballot.

It is a matter of interest that the majority of recent wide-spread food borne illness outbreaks, thought to have been the inspiration behind this Act, had their origins among the large farming industry, already highly regulated, but some argue under-enforced.


Jackie Melton is a member of the WFNA and a caretaker of a WFNA "Gateway Farm"



Anonymous said...

The bill does not cover personal consumption agriculture. It also does not pertain to farms. It effects registered food facilities that process agricultural products. Section 405 exempts small businesses.

The woman was leading you on.. I'd check out the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition for a more reasonable evaluation of the law.

Jackie Melton said...


I appreciate the referral but I have a question for you.

I noticed in the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's (NSAC) Web log entry regarding President Obama's signing of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act into law (dated January 7, 2011) the position of NSAC was, "The bill is far from perfect," and yet as I looked back in the archives of NSAC's blog, I found in another entry dated November 29, on the same subject, that NSAC had written a letter in support of the measure.

My question is this: Why would NSAC have supported a measure it later confessed is "far from perfect?"

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't work for NSAC, but I think they recognized that this bill is directed towards inspecting the major food processors. It has the potential to save many lives.

Someone once said, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good."

NSAC seemed to think that small businesses were adequately protected. Even beyond the exemptions written into the law, the bill authorizes further flexibility and exemptions for small businesses that don't carry much risk.

Jackie Melton said...

Anon 8:34, you wrote: "Even beyond the exemptions written into the law, the bill authorizes further flexibility and exemptions for small businesses that don't carry much risk."

I hope you don't take this as argumentative, that is not my intent. My intent is to learn about this bill for myself (and encourage others to learn about this bill for themselves) rather than taking other people's words for its meaning.

I printed out a copy of the enacted bill so I could look at it and the enacted bill's section 405 does not discuss exemptions for small businesses. Could you have misdirected me in that regard when you (I presume) wrote about that section at 9:59 last night?

Section 405 under the enacted bill regards "Determination of Budgetary Effects."

Regarding NSAC, I don't know much about them. They claim to be advocates for a lot of small to mid-sized farms, and overall, they may do fantastic work, but I have to wonder about an entity which claims to represent farmers in fighting for exemptions and/or provisions to protect small to mid-size farms against a bill which it admitted as late as January 7 was "far from perfect." If the bill is "far from perfect" and required NSAC to fight to protect small to mid-size farms against it then how can supporting and endorsing it be justified?

Would it not hav made much more sense to simply not support a bill which is far from perfection and fight for something more practical and more in line with what NSAC WOULD view as perfect?

Now, life and duty calls.... Later