“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”…….And they are doing it again.
Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence
This week, the United States Senate is likely to pass Continuing Resolution HR 3082, to fund the US Government through September of 2011. It’s ballooned from 423 pages when it left the House with 238 of those pages being the “Food Safety Modernization Act”, to 1,924 pages.* It gives earmarks and special favors to particular areas with Senators who find themselves in the position of being able to buy future votes. It also still includes S.510, which expands the FDA’s authority to make mandatory recalls and require farms to implement HACCP plans (Hazard and Critical Control Point) and “good agricultural practices” on their farms. This will create somewhere in the realm of 4,000 additional federal employees and put independent farming to death. But hey, people ‘think’ their food will more safe, so it’s all worth it, right?
A nation that cannot feed itself cannot be free. This is not a difficult concept to wrap one’s brain around, but people have become so removed from food creation that, as a nation, we are apparently going to have to be hungry or worse before we understand that animals are made out of meat, manure is a fertilizer and life is dirty. If you’re going to live, something else has to die. Even if you’re a militant vegan, you still kill the carrot when you consume it. Life feeds on life, whether you like it or not. That’s just life. That is why we should be thankful for what sustains us and not delude ourselves about reality. If you can’t sustain yourself on everything you can grow on the balcony or the cracks in the sidewalk out front, you had better get yourself educated on the impacts of regulations and constraints on farms that will supposedly ‘make you safe’.
A little walk through history may be necessary to paint the picture…In the 30’s, we had some pretty serious economic issues as you’ll recall. That little thing called The Great Depression. Not too far off from what we currently have, but we didn’t have the credit card industry that gives the illusion of normalcy that we have now. Many families had to send their children to relatives who lived on farms to keep the children from dying of starvation or malnutrition. My mother was born in the midst of the Depression and her family had 16 children there at one time. My grandparents had six children. They farmed with horses, grew buckwheat, milked cows and sold the milk and cream, raised chickens and sold the eggs and ate the meat, gardened and had an orchard in which they raised their pigs, and they also raised sheep. They had no money, but they did have food. They were a huge operation, milking as many as twelve cows from time to time. With the expansion of regulatory authority and the unchecked consolidation of markets, farms like the one my mother grew up on are gone. None of those children went on to farm as adults.
The consolidation and concentration in agriculture has been ongoing since the founding of this country. To some degree it is natural, but in the last fifty years, it has been completely orchestrated. In 1790, 90% of the workforce farmed for a living. In 1930, when the media really began to make fun of farmers and infer that those who fed the nation were unintelligent hicks, there were still more than one-fifth (21%) of the nation’s workers engaged in full time agriculture. Contraction and consolidation began in earnest in the 1950’s after the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) came out with a report recommending US farmers “get big, or get out”.
This has happened in every segment of farming. “Get big, or get out” has been the mantra of agencies and corporations for half a century. In 1980, there were over 117,000 dairy farms in the US. Today there are less than 65,000. In 1980, we had 666,000 hog farms. Today there are 71,000. In 1980, there were 1.9 million cattle ranchers. Today there are 900,000. The same applies to the growing of produce and grains. There are no statistics specifically geared toward diversified agriculture, but the last ag census showed that farms with less than $10,000 per year income grew in number while the others all fell. According to USDA statistics, we now have a total of less than one percent of the entire population engaged in agriculture.
Instead, we have increased our imports in produce to a phenomenal 68% in fruits and vegetables. Less than 1% of these are inspected by the agencies charged with “keeping” our food safe. A few years ago, Florida tomato growers lost more than $1 billion dollars for causing salmonella in salsa. Further investigation revealed it was Mexican produced jalapenos that were the real culprit. So now, in our illustrious intelligence, we are expanding the authority of the agencies in charge of “food safety” in this country, and enabling them to further annihilate our farms.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is an agency that is…encouraging state counterparts to raid food clubs, following farmers around trying to bust them for illegal food sales, destroying family businesses in both health supplements and raw dairy with no history or reports of illnesses associated with their products, allowing genetically modified organisms into your food without your knowledge or consent, allowing nano-particles in food without testing, fining companies for saying something is good for you, requiring that almonds be pasteurized and stating that raw milk should never be consumed by anyone for any reason under any circumstances. This same agency states you and your children have no right to any particular food, that you also have no right to bodily or physical health, and no right to contract. You do, however, have the right to serve as unwitting pharmaceutical and chemical test subjects. This is the agency you are allowing to control what your children will eat. This is the Food Destruction Agency.
When less than 1% of the population is engaged in feeding the entire population and those being fed don’t actively, and positively support the one percent, then the 99% should be happy when they are left to feed themselves….When Marie Antoinette was told that the peasants were threatening revolt because they had no bread, she said, “Let them eat cake.” When we are faced with rampant hunger because of the regulatory, financial, trade and foreign policies of the past 100 or so years, those of us who have been crying from the roof tops for people to take an interest in what really sustains them may be very well justified in saying, “Let them eat grass.”
Remember, No Farmers, No Food.
*As I was putting in the final links, I heard that the Senate has decided to pass a different temporary funding mechanism as they couldn’t get support for the behemoth they were trying to push. Until these Representatives adjourn and quit for the session we have to stay on the language from S 510 and keep pressuring them against making it law. Meanwhile, support your farmers!