Spring Hill Farms

  (Newark, Ohio)
Heritage Breed Pastured Pork, Chickens, Grass Fed Beef
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More Proof - The FDA is Out to Get Farmers

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Tamworth Duroc Cross Pigs 2005




In yet another move against farmers, the FDA recently took a "no holds barred" approach to being adversarial to farmers. They attacked one of their own.

If you were wondering if the FDA was your friend as a farmer...it looks like 'no'. The move  looks to be an attempt to rid the agency of anyone who might be sympathetic to farmers.



FDA Memo Threatens Agency’s Farmer Employees

http://www.lancasterfarming.com/results/FDA-Memo-Threatens-Agency-s-Farmer-Employees


12/25/2010 2:00 PM M.P. Taylor

 

 Maryland Correspondent

Just months short of his January retirement from the Food and Drug Administration, Lonnie Luther received word that his employer deemed his part-time farming operation a conflict of interest. He had, the memo said, 60 days to either sell his farm or quit his job.

Luther wasn’t alone. In fact, every FDA employee with any interest in farming received the same memo. And while FDA officials have put a hold on the order while the ethics rule on which it is based makes its way up the bureaucratic ladder for top-level reconsideration, employees fear the worst.

“I feared they might strip me of my retirement annuity” for refusing to sell or quit, and for going public with the memo, Luther said. “I still have anxieties and fears about what they might come up with.”

An FDA official, who would not speak to Lancaster Farming specifically about Luther’s case and could offer only background information on the policy, said the agency’s ethics rules are no different from those of any other government entity, although clearly they have never been enforced.

At issue is a new interpretation of the 10-year-old Supplemental Standards for Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Department of Health and Human Services. Should an “FDA regulated product” apply to farm crops and food animals?

Vincent Tolino, the ethics and integrity director who wrote the sell-or-quit memo, decided it did, although he told the Maryland Gazette newspapers that “there was really no exact point when an interpretation changed.”

But change it did and, in his memo to Luther, Tolino stated that “because the ... operations you are involved in are significantly regulated by FDA, you are prohibited from retaining this financial interest.”

Luther, a special assistant to the director of the FDA’s Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation, has been with the agency since 1974 and the owner of a Damascus, Md., farm for almost as long. He said that every year he has filed papers declaring his interest in the farm, where he and wife, Mina, raise corn, soybeans, hay, beef cattle and show chickens.

Where, he asked FDA officials, is the conflict of interest? It was a question to which he said he received no satisfactory answer.

He has never, he insists, attempted to parlay his position with FDA into an unfair marketing advantage for his small farming operation. He owns the farm “because this is how I want to live. I grew up on a farm and wanted to continue that lifestyle.”

Katherine Weld, a colleague of Luther’s who is nowhere near retirement, raises meat goats on her 26-acre farm just outside Frederick, Md. She admits to being “off the deep end” over the memo and is planning to leave the agency if it ultimately becomes necessary.

“I’m not going to give up this lifestyle,” she said of the farm. “I like the hard work and satisfaction of raising an animal, and I have started to look for jobs.”

Like Luther, she sees no conflict of interest in her farming operation and job.

“I’m not saying the meat is FDA-approved, and I don’t tell anyone I work for the FDA,” she said. “Using that information for marketing would be a problem, and it would be wrong.”

However, she said the ethics rule has been bent so far that “you can’t sell a tomato out of your backyard garden,” and she also believes it would bar children from participating in 4-H activities.

“This isn’t Enron,” she said of the alleged ethics violations.

Although Weld doesn’t personally know of any employee who has sold a farm, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened since the memo was sent to FDA employees nationwide.

While they wait for the bureaucracy to work its will on the ethics rule interpretation, they all live in “fear the ax is going to fall,” she said.

Since so many of the agency’s most valued professionals may choose to quit, she thinks the agency is making a big mistake in beefing up its ethics rule interpretation.

“If they’re afraid of losing their institutional knowledge, pushing people out the door is not the way to keep them,” she said.

Luther is far less diplomatic in his assessment of the situation, calling the agency’s ethics staff “a bunch of idiots who have decided to exercise their intelligence. It’s just nonsense, unbelievable stuff.”


 


 
 

Smaller Livestock Producers May Get a Fair Deal

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It's all about the money
Several years ago I was reading something, I don't remember what now. I was shocked to find out that there has been a law on the books since 1921 that would stop a lot of the "sweetheart" deals that exist in the corporate livestock industry.

You may not know it, but much of the deals that take place in the meat packing industry keep all but the biggest players at a serious disadvantage in the marketplace.

As the outbreak of World War I occurred and the cost of living rose, president Woodrow Wilson ordered the FTC to investigate the industry from the "hoof to the table" to determine whether or not there were any "manipulations, controls, trusts, combinations, or restraints out of harmony with the law or the public interest."

The FTC reported packers were manipulating markets, restricting flow of foods, controlling the price of dressed meat, defrauding producers and consumers of food and crushing competition. The FTC, in fact, recommended governmental ownership of the stockyards and their related facilities. (source)

Congress passed the Packers and Stockyards Act on August 15, 1921 as H.R. 6320 and the law went into effect in September 1921.

It has never been enforced to any degree of effectiveness and the same things and worse are still going today.

Recently the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has proposed a bill that would establish rules to enforce the act. This is a major move in the right direction.

The Center for Rural Affairs has the details [more]

 

 

 
 

A Story of Holiday Hams and Nice People

Holiday Hams 

 

A couple of days ago I was out delivering holiday hams to customers. Little did I know that someone was watching me [more]

 
 

What's Wrong With Our Food System - Speech by 11 yr old boy.

Excellent speech by Birke Baehr an eleven year old boy.

 

 

 
 

A Great Way to See/Share Why to buy from a Local Farm

I love this little video! It really brings home what's going on in the industrial farming sector.

When I go through the grocery store I see so many pretty, pastoral labels all designed to make me think my food is actually coming from a real farm somewhere...

Opt out of that system buy from a local farmer!

 

See it here

 
 

I'm ashamed it took me this long...

A couple of days ago a close friend of mine called me to ask if I had watched Food Inc.

 Watch the trailer here.

I immediately knew what he was talking about as I had seen the reviews in Acres USA and a several other small farm, sustainable farming publications.

He had been exposed to it on the academy awards show, rented it on a whim, and was now calling me to see if I had seen it.

His reaction to the movie was pretty intense. I know him well enough to know he isn't easily impressed, so I thought I'd better get the thing and watch it.

My wife and sat down to watch it last night and by the time it was over I had experienced a host of emotions.

It made me mad enough to yell at the TV, I was enlightened, I cried at one point...this movie is an absolute MUST SEE if you want to see the truth about the food industry in America.

It was tastefully put together and doesn't have a visual shock value element where you can't watch certain scenes like some other things of this nature I have watched. 

Watch the trailer and get a copy you won't be sorry.

Until next time...

 
 
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