The Hard Truth

Journal of Political News & Constitutionalism

Archive for March 2009

Lose your property for growing food?

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By Chelsea Schilling
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

GROUND CONTROL
Big Brother legislation could mean prosecution, fines up to $1 million

Some small farms and organic food growers could be placed under direct supervision of the federal government under new legislation making its way through Congress.

Food Safety Modernization Act

House Resolution 875, or the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, was introduced by Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., in February. DeLauro’s husband, Stanley Greenburg, works for Monsanto – the world’s leading producer of herbicides and genetically engineered seed.

DeLauro’s act has 39 co-sponsors and was referred to the House Agriculture Committee on Feb. 4. It calls for the creation of a Food Safety Administration to allow the government to regulate food production at all levels – and even mandates property seizure, fines of up to $1 million per offense and criminal prosecution for producers, manufacturers and distributors who fail to comply with regulations.

Michael Olson, host of the Food Chain radio show and author of “Metro Farm,” told WND the government should focus on regulating food production in countries such as China and Mexico rather than burdening small and organic farmers in the U.S. with overreaching regulations.

“We need somebody to watch over us when we’re eating food that comes from thousands and thousands of miles away. We need some help there,” he said. “But when food comes from our neighbors or from farmers who we know, we don’t need all of those rules. If your neighbor sells you something that is bad and you get sick, you are going to get your hands on that farmer, and that will be the end of it. It regulates itself.”

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The legislation would establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services “to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes.”

Federal regulators will be tasked with ensuring that food producers, processors and distributors – both large and small – prevent and minimize food safety hazards such as food-borne illnesses and contaminants such as bacteria, chemicals, natural toxins or manufactured toxicants, viruses, parasites, prions, physical hazards or other human pathogens.

Under the legislation’s broad wording, slaughterhouses, seafood processing plants, establishments that process, store, hold or transport all categories of food products prior to delivery for retail sale, farms, ranches, orchards, vineyards, aquaculture facilities and confined animal-feeding operations would be subject to strict government regulation.

Government inspectors would be required to visit and examine food production facilities, including small farms, to ensure compliance. They would review food safety records and conduct surveillance of animals, plants, products or the environment.

“What the government will do is bring in industry experts to tell them how to manage all this stuff,” Olson said. “It’s industry that’s telling government how to set these things up. What it always boils down to is who can afford to have the most influence over the government. It would be those companies that have sufficient economies of scale to be able to afford the influence – which is, of course, industrial agriculture.”

Farms and food producers would be forced to submit copies of all records to federal inspectors upon request to determine whether food is contaminated, to ensure they are in compliance with food safety laws and to maintain government tracking records. Refusal to register, permit inspector access or testing of food or equipment would be prohibited.

“What is going to happen is that local agriculture will end up suffering through some onerous protocols designed for international agriculture that they simply don’t need,” Olson said. “Thus, it will be a way for industrial agriculture to manage local agriculture.”

Under the act, every food producer must have a written food safety plan describing likely hazards and preventative controls they have implemented and must abide by “minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water.”

“That opens a whole can of worms,” Olson said. “I think that’s where people are starting to freak out about losing organic agriculture. Who is going to decide what the minimum standards are for fertilization or anything else? The government is going to bring in big industry and say we are setting up these protocols, so what do you think we should do? Who is it going to bring in to ask? The government will bring in people who have economies of scale who have that kind of influence.”

DeLauro’s act calls for the Food Safety Administration to create a “national traceability system” to retrieve history, use and location of each food product through all stages of production, processing and distribution.

Olson believes the regulations could create unjustifiable financial hardships for small farmers and run them out of business.

“That is often the purpose of rules and regulations: to get rid of your competition,” he said. “Only people who are very, very large can afford to comply. They can hire one person to do paperwork. There’s a specialization of labor there, and when you are very small, you can’t afford to do all of these things.”

Olson said despite good intentions behind the legislation, this act could devastate small U.S. farms.

“Every time we pass a rule or a law or a regulation to make the world a better place, it seems like what we do is subsidize production offshore,” he said. “We tell farmers they can no longer drive diesel tractors because they make bad smoke. Well, essentially what we’re doing is giving China a subsidy to grow our crops for us, or Mexico or anyone else.”

Section 304 of the Food Safety Modernization Act establishes a group of “experts and stakeholders from Federal, State, and local food safety and health agencies, the food industry, consumer organizations, and academia” to make recommendations for improving food-borne illness surveillance.

According to the act, “Any person that commits an act that violates the food safety law … may be assessed a civil penalty by the Administrator of not more than $1,000,000 for each such act.”

Each violation and each separate day the producer is in defiance of the law would be considered a separate offense and an additional penalty. The act suggests federal administrators consider the gravity of the violation, the degree of responsibility and the size and type of business when determining penalties.

Criminal sanctions may be imposed if contaminated food causes serious illness or death, and offenders may face fines and imprisonment of up to 10 years.

“It’s just frightening what can happen with good intentions,” Olson said. “It’s probably the most radical notions on the face of this Earth, but local agriculture doesn’t need government because it takes care of itself.”

Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act

Another “food safety” bill that has organic and small farmers worried is Senate Bill 425, or the Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act, sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Brown’s bill is backed by lobbyists for Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland and Tyson. It was introduced in September and has been referred to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. Some say the legislation could also put small farmers out of business.

Like HR 875, the measure establishes a nationwide “traceability system” monitored by the Food and Drug Administration for all stages of manufacturing, processing, packaging and distribution of food. It would cost $40 million over three years.

“We must ensure that the federal government has the ability and authority to protect the public, given the global nature of the food supply,” Brown said when he introduced the bill. He suggested the FDA and USDA have power to declare mandatory recalls.

The government would track food shipped in interstate commerce through a recordkeeping and audit system, a secure, online database or registered identification. Each farmer or producer would be required to maintain records regarding the purchase, sale and identification of their products.

A 13-member advisory committee of food safety and tracking technology experts, representatives of the food industry, consumer advocates and government officials would assist in implementing the traceability system.

The bill calls for the committee to establish a national database or registry operated by the Food and Drug Administration. It also proposes a electronic records database to identify sales of food and its ingredients “establishing that the food and its ingredients were grown, prepared, handled, manufactured, processed, distributed, shipped, warehoused, imported, and conveyed under conditions that ensure the safety of the food.”

It states, “The records should include an electronic statement with the date of, and the names and addresses of all parties to, each prior sale, purchase, or trade, and any other information as appropriate.”

If government inspectors find that a food item is not in compliance, they may force producers to cease distribution, recall the item or confiscate it.

“If the postal service can track a package from my office in Washington to my office in Cincinnati, we should be able to do the same for food products,” Sen. Brown said in a Sept. 4, 2008, statement. “Families that are struggling with the high cost of groceries should not also have to worry about the safety of their food. This legislation gives the government the resources it needs to protect the public.”

Recalls of contaminated food are usually voluntary; however, in his weekly radio address on March 15, President Obama announced he’s forming a Food Safety Working Group to propose new laws and stop corruption of the nation’s food.

The group will review, update and enforce food safety laws, which Obama said “have not been updated since they were written in the time of Teddy Roosevelt.”

The president said outbreaks from contaminated foods, such as a recent salmonella outbreak among consumers of peanut products, have occurred more frequently in recent years due to outdated regulations, fewer inspectors, scaled back inspections and a lack of information sharing between government agencies.

“In the end, food safety is something I take seriously, not just as your president but as a parent,” Obama said. “No parent should have to worry that their child is going to get sick from their lunch just as no family should have to worry that the medicines they buy will cause them harm.”

The blogosphere is buzzing with comments on the legislation, including the following:

  • Obama and his cronies or his puppetmasters are trying to take total control – nationalize everything, disarm the populace, control food, etc. We are seeing the formation of a total police state.
  • Well … that’s not very ” green ” of Obama. What’s his real agenda?
  • This is getting way out of hand! Isn’t it enough the FDA already allows poisons in our foods?
  • If you’re starving, no number of guns will enable you to stay free. That’s the whole idea behind this legislation. He who controls the food really makes the rules.
  • The government is terrified of the tax loss. Imagine all the tax dollars lost if people actually grew their own vegetables! Imagine if people actually coordinated their efforts with family, friends and neighbors. People could be in no time eating for the price of their own effort. … Oh the horror of it all! The last thing the government wants is for us to be self-sufficient.
  • They want to make you dependent upon government. I say no way! already the government is giving away taxes from my great great grandchildren and now they want to take away my food, my semi-auto rifles, my right to alternative holistic medicine? We need a revolution, sheeple! Wake up! They want fascism … can you not see that?
  •  The screening processes will make it very expensive for smaller farmers, where bigger agriculture corporations can foot the bill.
  • If anything it just increases accountability, which is arguably a good thing. It pretty much says they’ll only confiscate your property if there are questions of contamination and you don’t comply with their inspections. I think the severity of this has been blown out of proportion by a lot of conjecture.
  • Don’t waste your time calling the criminals in D.C. and begging them to act like humans. This will end with a bloody revolt.
  • The more I examine this (on the surface) seemingly innocuous bill the more I hate it. It is a coward’s ploy to push out of business small farms and farmers markets without actually making them illegal because many will choose not to operate due to the compliance issue.

Alan Keyes launches ‘Liberty’ blog

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Posted: March 07, 2009
12:20 am Eastern

By Drew Zahn
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

 OBAMA WATCH CENTRAL
Warns of ‘Obama’s push to make U.S. Soviet-style state’

Alan Keyes, a 2008 presidential candidate who now is a plaintiff in one of the many lawsuits seeking to verify whether Barack Obama qualifies under the U.S. Constitution’s requirements to occupy the Oval Office, has launched a new blog website where, according to the site, “faith gives reason for citizen action.”

“Given Obama’s push to overturn constitutional government and make the U.S. a Soviet-style state,” Keyes told WND, “I think it’s more important than ever that those of us who believe in liberty deliberate and work together.”

Keyes’ new Loyal to Liberty site includes a variety of blog posts, comment boards, polls, podcasts and even Twitter updates.

Keyes also announced his intention to update the site daily with views and comments on current events, including plans to serialize longer works that may be published later as books or pamphlets.

Never one to mince words, Keyes made headlines recently by calling President Obama a “radical communist” and suggesting “we are either going to stop him or the United States of America is going to cease to exist.”

On Loyal to Liberty, Keyes explains in more detail.

As part of a post called “Obama’s a communist: Why is it name calling?” Keyes explains that “communism” is simply an accurate descriptive term of policies, but after years of watching it fail in the Soviet Union, those to whom the term fits would rather not be associated with communist history.

“The enemies of freedom do their best to limit or eliminate words that interfere with their design for despotism,” Keyes writes. “They especially seek to stigmatize and discourage the use of words freighted with the sad and tragic history of tyranny and dictatorship. That’s why the use of the word ‘communist’ to describe Barack Obama has aroused such furious diatribe and aspersion.”

Keyes continues, however, by alluding to the saying: “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”

“It’s easy to understand,” Keyes writes, “why folks who are looking, waddling and quacking like communists would rather we called them messiahs.”

Keyes then follows with a list of 15 ways in which he suggests Obama has been “quacking” like a communist.

Other recent posts include a theological series on the foundation of society, criticism of the two-party system and the Republican Party and thoughts on the federal “stimulus” package.

As WND has reported, Keyes has brought one of the nation’s many legal challenges that have alleged Obama does not meet the “natural born citizen” clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, which reads, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.”

Where’s the proof Barack Obama was born in the U.S. or that he fulfills the “natural-born American” clause in the Constitution? If you still want to see it, join more than 300,000 others and sign up now!

Some claim Obama was not born in Hawaii, as he insists, but in Kenya. Obama’s American mother, the suits contend, was too young at the time of his birth to confer American citizenship to her son under the law at the time.

Other challenges have focused on Obama’s citizenship through his father, a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom at the time of his birth, thus making him a dual citizen. The cases contend the framers of the Constitution excluded dual citizens from qualifying as natural born.

The Keyes case is being handled largely by Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation. Others playing a key role in the legal actions include Orly Taitz of California and Philip Berg, both of whom already have had their arguments rejected as not worthy of hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here is a partial listing and status update for some of the cases over Obama’s eligibility:

  • New Jersey attorney Mario Apuzzo has filed a case on behalf of Charles Kerchner and others alleging Congress didn’t properly ascertain that Obama is qualified to hold the office of president.
  • Philip J. Berg, a Pennsylvania Democrat, demanded that the courts verify Obama’s original birth certificate and other documents proving his American citizenship. Berg’s latest appeal, requesting an injunction to stop the Electoral College from selecting the 44th president, was denied.
  • Leo Donofrio of New Jersey filed a lawsuit claiming Obama’s dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. His case was considered in conference by the U.S. Supreme Court but denied a full hearing.
  • Cort Wrotnowski filed suit against Connecticut’s secretary of state, making a similar argument to Donofrio. His case was considered in conference by the U.S. Supreme Court, but was denied a full hearing.
  • Former presidential candidate Alan Keyes headlines a list of people filing a suit in California, in a case handled by the United States Justice Foundation, that asks the secretary of state to refuse to allow the state’s 55 Electoral College votes to be cast in the 2008 presidential election until Obama verifies his eligibility to hold the office. The case is pending, and lawyers are seeking the public’s support.
  • Chicago attorney Andy Martin sought legal action requiring Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle to release Obama’s vital statistics record. The case was dismissed by Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Bert Ayabe.
  • Lt. Col. Donald Sullivan sought a temporary restraining order to stop the Electoral College vote in North Carolina until Barack Obama’s eligibility could be confirmed, alleging doubt about Obama’s citizenship. His case was denied.
  • In Ohio, David M. Neal sued to force the secretary of state to request documents from the Federal Elections Commission, the Democratic National Committee, the Ohio Democratic Party and Obama to show the presidential candidate was born in Hawaii. The case was denied.
  • In Washington state, Steven Marquis sued the secretary of state seeking a determination on Obama’s citizenship. The case was denied.
  • In Georgia, Rev. Tom Terry asked the state Supreme Court to authenticate Obama’s birth certificate. His request for an injunction against Georgia’s secretary of state was denied by Georgia Superior Court Judge Jerry W. Baxter.
  • California attorney Orly Taitz has brought a case, Lightfoot vs. Bowen, on behalf of Gail Lightfoot, the vice presidential candidate on the ballot with Ron Paul, four electors and two registered voters.

In addition, other cases cited on the RightSideofLife blog as raising questions about Obama’s eligibility include:

  • In Texas, Darrel Hunter vs. Obama later was dismissed.
  • In Ohio, Gordon Stamper vs. U.S. later was dismissed.
  • In Texas, Brockhausen vs. Andrade.
  • In Washington, L. Charles vs. Obama.
  • In Hawaii, Keyes vs. Lingle, dismissed.

WND senior reporter Jerome Corsi had gone to both Kenya and Hawaii prior to the election to investigate issues surrounding Obama’s birth. But his research and discoveries only raised more questions.

The governor’s office in Hawaii said there is a valid certificate but rejected requests for access and left ambiguous its origin: Does the certificate on file with the Department of Health indicate a Hawaii birth or was it generated after the Obama family registered a Kenyan birth in Hawaii, which the state’s procedures allowed at the time?