From the Sacramento Bee, January 25, 2012
The grass-roots (and grass-fed) agriculture revolution that Patty Chelseth started last summer is picking up steam.
Chelseth, of My Sisters’ Farm in Shingle Springs, has launched a campaign to get a “Local Food and Community Self-Governance” ordinance. Her effort got a warm reception Tuesday from the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors.
Although supervisors did not pass anything with teeth, they gave strong verbal support to Chelseth and others who believe they are starting a revolution against onerous state regulations that hurt small farmers. Read more »
The Food Rights Coalition is a statewide group of dairy share farmers and owners/consumers who came together in the wake of raids and Cease and Desist Orders directed against dairy shares and food buying clubs in California. The following proposal will be presented before the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Small Herd Dairy Working Group, created by Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross to find ways to meet the needs of very small dairy operations for legal recognition. The Food Rights Coalition seeks to decriminalize the production of milk on a small scale for local consumption and gain recognition for the rights of consumers and farmers to contract such basic services as the production of healthy dairy products. The proposal includes reference to laws in other state that suggest alternative models to the highly restrictive provisions of the California Code.
Proposal for CDFA Small Herd Dairy Working Group
1. FAMILY COW:Citizens have milk for their own family and they share it with their neighbors. This category allows for no more than 3 animal units in lactation formilk production. Read more »
By Laura Bledsoe | October 24, 2011
(from Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s online newsletter: http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/quail-hollow-farm-dinner.htm
When an over-zealous regulator shows up at a farm dinner demanding that food be destroyed as hungry guests await, who do you call? Here’s Laura’s account written as a letter to her guests who had come to Quail Hollow Farm expecting a meal of foods harvested from local small family farms.
This incident shows the value of the 24/7 legal hotline for farmers like Laura who need help…even on a Friday night! A member benefit like the hotline is available thanks to the financial support of the many FTCLDF members and donors.
Dearest Guests, (You have all become dear to us!)
What an evening we had this last Friday night! It had all the makings of a really great novel: drama, suspense, anticipation, crisis, heroic efforts, villains and victors, resolution and a happy ending.
The evening was everything I had dreamed and hoped it would be. The weather was perfect, the farm was filled with friends and guests roaming around talking about organic, sustainable farming practices. Our young interns were teaching and sharing their passion for farming and their role in it. (A high hope for our future!) The pig didn’t get loose.
Our guests were excited to spend an evening together. The food was prepared exquisitely. The long dinner table, under the direction of dear friends, was absolutely stunningly beautiful. The music was superb. The stars were bright and life was really good.
And then, …
for a few moments, it felt like the rug was pulled out from underneath us and my wonderful world came crashing down. As guests were mingling, finishing tours of the farm, and while the first course of the meal was being prepared and ready to be sent out, a Southern Nevada Health District employee came for an inspection. Read more »
BY TOM LASKAWY
Four companies currently control 90 percent of all beef processing in the US. One of the least-discussed but most promising attempts at food system reform was dealt a serious blow the other day. The USDA itself eviscerated its proposed reform to a set of rules which would have given a government division with a wonky name — the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) — authority to crack down on the way large corporate meatpackers wield power over small and mid-sized ranchers.
To say this was a lost opportunity is a vast understatement. After all, the top four companies control 90 percent of all beef processing. In the case of pork, four companies control 70 percent of the processing, while for poultry it’s nearly 60 percent. When you get that kind of market power,* abuse becomes rampant. Indeed, ranchers all around the country now agree that it’s impossible for them to get a fair price for livestock. Read more »
PROTECT OUR RIGHT TO DRINK RAW MILK
AND HELP SUPPORT LOCAL FARMERS AND BUILD THE LOCAL ECONOMY
Why do we need a county resolution to protect our food rights?
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is making it increasingly difficult for people to obtain raw milk from their local farmers. Across the state the CDFA is issuing “cease and desist” orders to small, private dairy shares, including one in the fair town of Willits here in Mendocino County. A dairy share is when a group of people (who are unable to keep their own livestock) collectively purchase cows or goats and hire a farmer to feed, board and milk their animals and provide them with the dairy products.
The CDFA claims these arrangements are a threat to the public health and constitute an “illegal” commercial transaction of raw milk. Yes, they are serious. Recently a task force of agencies, including the CDFA, fronted by a SWAT team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, raided the Rawsome food buying club in Venice, California, seizing produce, destroying milk stocks, confiscating cash, and arresting the owners. The charges? Processing and sale of unpasteurized milk to club members. The owners of Evergreen Acres Goat Farm outside of San Jose, California are facing criminal charges from the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office for their dairy share operation. Read more »
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is making it increasingly difficult for people to obtain fresh, unpasteurized (raw) milk from their local farmers. Across the state they are issuing “cease and desist” orders to small, private dairy shares. Now the CDFA is also pressuring county officials to take action against the “risks and dangers” of raw milk. Help defend everyone’s right to the food of their choice!
Please write, call, or visit your Supervisor to ask that he or she consider all sides of the question.
Here are some points you may want to make.
1)Many people rely on raw milk for a variety of health conditions. Many people in this county get milk directly from small farmers not licensed by the state. Read more »
The FDA is on a campaign to ban raw milk sales. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has made it increasingly difficult for people to sell raw milk in the state and recently issued “cease and desist” orders to small, private dairy shares across the state, including one here in Mendocino County (public disclosure: the one my wife, Sara Grusky and I have been supplying). A task force of agencies, including FDA and CDFA, fronted by a SWAT team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, recently raided the Rawsome food buying club in Venice, California, seizing produce, destroying milk stocks, confiscating cash, and arresting the owners. The charges? Processing and sale of unpasteurized milk to club members, plus storing unwashed eggs at room temperature. Heavy stuff. Meanwhile, federal regulators were walking executives of Cargill, the grain and meat giant, through a “cost-benefit analysis” to see if it was worth while recalling ground turkey after more than 100 people were sickened and one Californian died of salmonella poisoning. (In the end, Cargill voluntarily recalled 36 million pounds of their product. No charges have been filed.) No one has reported illnesses at Rawsome or among the dairy shares targeted.
So what’s a reasonable person to think? The FDA’s food czar, Michael Taylor (poster boy for the revolving door between American’s most hated corporation, Monsanto, and America’s most hated public institution) recently defended his agency’s preoccupation with tiny dairy share operations as a vital part of protecting public health. Those of us who would like our milk fresh, whole and uncooked, defend dairy shares Read more »
The FDA is on a campaign to ban raw milk sales. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has made it increasingly difficult for people to sell raw milk in the state and recently issued “cease and desist” orders to small, private dairy shares across the state, including one here in Mendocino County. And Mendocino County officials have been pursuing the issue as if there were some genuine threat to public health in this county. (See “Raw Facts on Raw Milk”.)
The real threat is that heavy handed government efforts to eliminate any possible risk from our food supply is stifling the growing local food movement in this country. As it is, small farmers and food producers have to jump through multiple hoops to comply with existing law, and the regulations are too often unclear, compliance outside the budgets of small producers. Meanwhile, giant corporations are implicated in large-scale food poisonings without serious consequences to themselves or their owners.
The FDA’s and CDFA’s targeting of tiny dairy producers is only the most public example of the difficulties others have encountered attempting to provide the public with tomato sauce, pickles, seaweed, sprouts, wildcrafted mushrooms, and other “potentially hazardous” foods. And the FDA is preparing rules for the sale of leafy greens that threaten to put small-scale producers out of business once and for all.
In this context, we insist on our right to feed ourselves. Starting at the county level, communities all over the country have begun to pass “food sovereignty” legislation challenging state and federal regulators to make room for traditional, small-scale production. Join the effort here in Mendocino County and help re-build our local food economy.
A RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING THE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS TO GROW AND CONSUME THEIR OWN FOOD AND TO ENTER INTO PRIVATE CONTRACTS WITH OTHER INDIVIDUALS TO BOARD ANIMALS FOR FOOD
WHEREAS, the people of the County of Mendocino historically have maintained and enjoyed the right to raise food for themselves and their families; and
WHEREAS, family farms, sustainable agricultural practices and food processing by individuals, families and small, locally based firms offers stability to our rural way of life by enhancing the economic, environmental and social wealth of our community; and Read more »