Thursday, June 24, 2010

Freedom to Farm

It's too damp to cut wheat so let's blog a little bit. What do you think of this piece from

Crops grow in dirt. Animals don't take showers or use toilets. Food is made from yucky stuff.

This means there is always the chance of contamination. We have greatly reduced that risk
but it is not yet possible to eliminate it. Attempts to make everything perfectly safe are Utopian fantasies that carry a high price in increased costs, reduced variety, diminished supply, and . . . increased risk.

The free market already provides you with multiple ways to balance risks and costs. You can choose between . . .

Organic and non-organic food
Locally grown food, or food from far away
Processed or non-processed food
Natural or genetically engineered food
The politicians want to reduce this variety, and your choices, in favor of their preferred scheme of top-down, one-size-fits-all regulation. But do such monolithic schemes really make us safer? What if the one-size-fits-all scheme gets something wrong, overlooks something, or has unintended consequences? Then everybody suffers, whereas . . .
The choices provided by the free market tend to limit the harm caused by mistakes. It's like having a diversified portfolio of investments. Sadly, politicians aren't fond of diversity. They much prefer their own arrogant dreams for re-engineering the world. Now here comes their latest one . . .
Some politicians want to exploit highly publicized food-borne outbreaks to remake American agriculture, from the top down. These outbreaks were generally the result of industrialized food production, but, as with 9/11 and the housing bubble, politicians like to use crises to grab the power to re-do everything. In this case the most infamous proposal of the 111th Congress was H.R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act. This bill would've created . . .
a vast new bureaucracy, the Food Safety Administration (FSA)
an army of inspectors with the power to seize the papers and effects of farmers without a warrant
a system to track every morsel of food from the farm to the supermarket, in combination with the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)
a pile of reports for farmers to file
It also would've. . .
defined a regulated "food production facility" to potentially include backyard gardens
given FSA bureaucrats wide latitude to define "safety" so as to potentially ban organic farming
ined violators of FSA regulations up to $1 million per day with no judicial review
asserted federal jurisdiction even when food hadn't cross state lines
When we first launched this campaign back in April, we mentioned that House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman said "he intends to pass a strong food safety bill soon."
This bill we warned you about, the 109-page H.R. 2749, is here.
The good news is that some of the most egregious trial balloons from earlier bills such as H.R. 875 have gone by the wayside . . .
There will be no new Food Safety Administration bureaucracy
The bill seems to define "farm" in such a way that backyard gardens won't be included in the regulations
Direct farm-to-consumer, farm-to-restaurant, and farm-to-grocery store transactions will be exempt
There is no implementation or incorporation of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)
YOU are to be thanked for this. DC Downsizers were part of a large army of concerned citizens that killed earlier bills.
But the bad news is still very bad. This bill . . .
authorizes warrantless searches of farms
imposes a $500 tax (or "registration fee") of all operators in all steps of the food production chain

Please oppose H.R. 2749, S.510, and all other so-called food safety bills."

Actually crops grow in soil but we can do it at greater expense without soil now. Farmers provide showers for animals and better waste disposal than most humans have on earth. Food is made from good stuff. You get the drift but I support the freedom to farm.

Mr. Ed Winkle
3308 Martinsville RoadMartinsville, OH 45146-9721


  1. The animal identification is here too. RFID tags are required on any cattle sold now. I've never used any tags on my small cattle herd. Their first introduction to handling chutes is usually at the local auction market where they are tagged before selling. It costs me but its the price of working with today's system. The experts claim it will give us a safer product but what a process. Life was so simple when my Dad raised cattle.

  2. Simplify! Eat more dandelions and possum!

  3. Incidentally, I'm sure that most farmers are aware of this, but some non-farming readers may not be: Most movements that purport to care about food safety or animal welfare are actually begun or backed by radical vegetarians. No joke!