A look at H.R. 875 from a small farmer

I noticed a blog entry a day or two ago about Libertarians reaction to H.R. 875.  I doubt there are many on Redstate with my background.  I have an understanding of why they feel Republicans and Democrats are ignoring their concerns because small farmers are probably the smallest minority group left in this country.  The agriculture departmen has trouble even defining what a small family farm is. I grew up on a 200 acre family farm.  We had our own cattle, poultry, and hogs.  We grew our own garden vegetables, fruit, and nuts.  My mother saved the cream from our one dairy cow and eggs to trade at a local store.  She saved the money that wasn’t used for items like sugar and flour to purchase material to make new dresses for her three girls.  I own a much smaller farm than the one my parents had. When I first married I would take 5 gallon buckets of extra vegetables to church and leave them by the door with some bags for people to get what they wanted.  We often shared meat from our farm with our Pastor and other friends.  When people come by and ask me for a taste of fresh milk now I tell them no.  I live in a state where it isn’t legal and I don’t want risk time in jail for giving away a taste of milk.  I explain to them that even if they live in the city limits they can still purchase a cow or goat of their own, find a farmer willing to care for the animal for a fee, and drink milk from their own animal.  I don’t except the liability to care for any animals other than my own so I suggest they contact their county extension agent for names of people who may provide the service to them.  I have also stopped giving vegetables away it isn’t worth risking a lawsuit. There have been many changes for small farmers through the years and a nation that once had a large population of small farmers now faces not only a shortage of small farms but the chance that the small farmer will become extinct.  I have written many letters to state legislature and members of congress to let my tiny voice be heard.  I understand why some get so frustrated and angry.

 The food safety issue is an important issue.  I am more concerned about the food coming into this country from China, Mexico, and South America than the food I buy at a local u-pick farm.  It isn’t an issue that has influenced how I vote because there are other issues like defense, the economy, stopping the government control of health care, securing our border…that have taken priority over this issue.  The distruction of the small farm is one that leaves me in tears at night and feeling helpless to stop it.  The other issues can be turned around if we can get a conservative majority in 2010 but the issues facing the small farmer will probably be neglected.

Our Congress is very concerned that we be able to trace back every fish, chicken, goat, and cow.  Will they use computerized ear tags on us next?




Two of the bills are about traceability for food (S.425 and H.R. 814).  These present real issues for small producers who could be forced to bear the cost of expensive tracking technology and recordkeeping.

The other bills address what FDA can do to regulate food.

A lot of attention has been focused on a bill introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (H.R. 875), the Food Safety Modernization Act.  And a lot of what is being said about the bill is misleading

Several of the things not found in the DeLauro can be found in other bills – like H.R. 814, the Tracing and Recalling Agricultural Contamination Everywhere Act, which calls for a mandatory animal identification system, or H.R. 759, the Food And Drug Administration Globalization Act, which overhauls the entire structure of FDA.  H.R. 759 is more likely to move through Congress than H.R. 875.   And H.R. 759 contains several provisions that could cause problems for small farms and food processors:

It extends traceability recordkeeping requirements that currently apply only to food processors to farms and restaurants – and requires that recordkeeping be done electronically.

It calls for standard lot numbers to be used in food production.

It requires food processing plants to pay a registration fee to FDA to fund the agency’s inspection efforts.

It instructs FDA to establish production standards for fruits and vegetables and to establish Good Agricultural Practices for produce