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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thune to Food Safety: Drop Dead

Senator John Thune joined 24 fellow Republicans yesterday to vote against S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act. The New York Times maps the Senate votes:

U.S. Senate vote on S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, 2010.11.30.
Source: New York Times.

Senator Thune cast his lot with the Confederates and cowboys who think we eating eggs with salmonella is a personal choice, not a matter for regulation. Senator Tim Johnson cast his lot with the hippies and liberals who want a little ovesight of their granola.

Some of my liberal friends have expressed concerns that federal food safety legislation could put small farmers and organic growers out of business. However, Senator Jon Tester from Montana succeeded in getting his amendment to protect small farms into the bill. Even food ├╝ber-watchdogs Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser think the Tester Amendment makes S. 510 good enough to support. Update 19:27 CST: South Dakota farmer and Dakota Rural Action member Zita Kwartek tells The Independent Local that the Tester-Hagan Amendment protects our small farmers.

But Senator Thune's nay on food safety shows that he'll put Tea Party cred above sensible public safety rules as we push on toward 2012.


  1. Wow, and here I thought we already tested for salmonella! If it weren't for federal regulators I'm sure we'd be hip-deep in mad cow disease too. Not that we should care that there is no constitutional authority for any of this, after all they haven't allowed themselves to be restrained by that since the 30's anyway, but is regulation of food safety something the states are incapable of doing without Uncle Sam? Is it really better to have such things run by a remote agency with people handpicked by DC politicians rather than as our own people would want it done?

  2. Michael Pollan, for whom i have great respect, is wrong on this one. While I as a conservative w/libertarian leanings, will come out swinging against anyone who is inconsistent on this issue. Or related issues. Your assessment of the republican reps who want to make it illegal to give an illegal immigrant a ride was right on. But people who lean democrat seem to want to make any excuse to prop up their side and cut them slack. When Pres. Obama was elected, the glimmer of hope I had for his administration was that he would do a better job on farm issues. That died w/his appointments, starting with the sec. of ag. While Pollan gets all starry eyed about an organic garden at the White House, he says little or nothing about gmos that are ruining real crops, and using the present regulations to go after big ag that even w/the tester ammendment will go scott free and continue to make us a nation that is getting sicker, and the Monsanto guy who is in the FDA. Monsanto and their ilk supported this, while they weakly objected to the tester ammendment, they support the bill, that should tell us something.
    Things in the ammendment will make it easier, not harder to go after the little guys. $500,000? Is that net or gross? What if food prices escalate as predicted? Someone who is a successful small farmer like Joel Salatin will probably be beyond the protection. If I go pick up some food items and get some for my neighbor as well, the producing farmer will be in violation unless he has iron clad proof I bought it all for myself and then 'resold' it to my neighbor, which gets ME in trouble.
    This is a bad bill. Now it looks as though it is in trouble and might be dead, if it is, local food producers should breathe a sigh of relief. Very interesting conversation about this on thecompletepatient.com and the FoodInc. F/B page.

  3. Actually, Roger, the Tester-Hagan amendment acknowledges a preference for local oversight by making that one of the tests for exempting small local farmers from the requirements of the act.

  4. And Joelie, good points. If Monsanto likes it, we should be suspicious. Still, Pollan, Schlosser, and even DRA sound comfortable enough with the Tester-Hagan Amendment to work with the bill. If Congress does ultimately pass this law and if problems for small producers like you do arise, I hope Noem, Thune, and Johnson will be able to look beyond partisanship (and Big Ag's influence) to fix the law.

    I do agree with you that corporate ag has its hooks too deeply into Washington, including the Obama Administration. We have a lot of work to do to reclaim farming for individuals and a market free of subsidies and government preferences for the big dogs. But I still believe we have a better chance of making that case with Demcorats than with Republicans.

  5. Anybody working on that snow baler yet?


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