…over too much regulation. Are you listening, ODA?
To quote Monty Python, “Blessed are the cheesemakers…”
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No, I didn’t leave Wisconsin over too much regulation. I never said that. Please don’t put words in my mouth.
I left because corporate dairy business interests are too strong in Wisconsin. Do not confuse the issue. I would gladly welcome regulations which would ban GMO crops, synthetic bovine growth hormones, and which would protect the identity and authenticity of traditional raw milk cheeses and other whole natural foods made on an artisinal scale from mass produced commercial immitators.
Unfortunately, because the Wisconsin dairy industry is so powerful and monied, and because Wisconsin focuses so much on making itself a “business friendly” state, it has made a point of crushing small scale traditional organic farmers and cheesemakers, while heavily subsidizing large confinement farms and industrialized cheesemaking.
I WANT regulations which protect the little guy from big business. The WI regulations I’m against are the ones which big business uses to crush the little guy and only make themselves more profitable.
If you want the State to protect you from “Big business”, then you must allow the State to protect “Big business” from you, if the State so chooses.
Same coin, just different sides.
Dear Mr. Anderson,
Thank you for the clarification. I think your words speak for themselves, but I would point out that raw milk and NAIS are in fact regulatory issues, regardless of who the regulators are working for. What you’re telling me is that you want the guns of the State pointed at farmers, but you want to decide which farmers. I’m sure ADM has the same desire. It’s similar to the situation we just had in Ohio, where, faced with the threat of a HSUS ballot initiative, Farm Bureau et al supported an initiative to establish a Livestock Care Standards Board. Once they had ceded the point that others had the right to tell them how to farm, HSUS came back with enough signatures (maybe) to put their bill on the ballot, and Farm Bureau folded like a cheap suit (throwing Amish dog breeders under the bus in the process). If I were a farmer (which I am, a little, in my own funky homesteady way) and you came onto my property with a gun and started telling me how to run the place, I”d be within my rights to order you off the property…and more, if you brandished the gun. So why do you think that delegating the job absolves you of moral culpability?
It’s a pity, really, because we probably agree on more than we disagree on…quality local food, empowering the small farmer, not doing business with Monsatan and others of their ilk. Indeed, I regularly buy grass-fed raw milk cheeses from a farmstead creamery. I am certainly not supporting corporations here. But they wouldn’t be the danger they are if they didn’t have access to legal force. And power working the way it does, if the legal force exists, it will fall into the hands of those with the most money. Applying more legal force to prevent that only leads to more of the same. We’ve had over a half-century of the kinder gentler compassionately conservative version of the Liquidation of the Kulaks, and the only way it’s going to stop is to get government out of the food chain and connect consumers with producers.
I don’t expect the government to do anything to upset agribusiness interests anytime in the near future. It is up to “we the people” to try to hold these soulless corporations accountable for their crimes against human health, the enviroment, and family farmers.
However, to say that regulation by nature is the problem, is very simple-minded, in my opinion. Once again, I would point to Europe, where GMO crops are banned and traditional raw milk cheeses are protected by various designations known as AOC or PDO (protected demonination of origin).
There is no way you are going to eliminate regulation — all human interactions are regulated for better or for worse by various mechanisms. Our efforts are better spent trying to craft such mechanisms which liberate us, and which protect and cherish sustainable and democratic traditions.
btw… Snowville creamery opposed the Livestock Care Standards Board. I believe we are the first to become certified with the independent “Grass Grazed Ohio” seal!
Good on Snowville!
My concerns are with something like S. 510, which is a massive flush of the natural right to feed oneself. Certainly there’s a difference between that and the sort of relatively-benign regulations you cite. But once you’ve admitted the principle, you have to fight each and every proposed negative implementation of it politically, and I’m not convinced that benefits can outweigh the costs. AOCs preserve the identity of traditional foods…but they also stifle innovation (consider the similar “standards of identity” in US foods, where ketchup sweetened with honey cannot be called “ketchup”). But there’s a case for calling apples apples, oranges oranges, and champagne champagne. As for GMOs, the issue there for me is genetic contamination and resulting spread of poison; it’s a private-property issue. I have no issue with GMOs per se; if you want to use gene-splicing to do in a season what would take 10-20 years of traditional breeding, that’s fine (avoiding for the moment the possible nutritionally-negative effects of ANY plant breeding). It’s transgenetic organisms that I don’t want in my body, or drifting into my garden.
The issue of GMO’s is more than just about the genetic contamination of other crops. Though that is certainly an important concern which I wouldn’t downplay in the least, the larger issue with GMOs is that corporations like Monsanto are attempting to privatize the commons — the shared seed heritage of innumerable indigenous cultures — using Monsanto’s patents and claims to genetic private property. This of course goes hand in hand with the global efforts of organizations like the WTO and NAFTA to drive traditional subsistance farmers off the land with neo-liberal “land reform” policies, privitazation of common resources, and flooding of local markets with cheap imported grains produced using this “Green Revolution” technology.
I would agree that AOC/PDO are not a perfect system. I can think of several examples in which they fail to sufficiently protect the traditional artisinal nature of the craft (i.e. Alsatian Munster does not need to be produced in Alsace, only aged there; or Belgian Lambic beer only needs to have a proportion spontaneously fermented, and can be pastuerized then backsweetened… there are other examples). But it is certainly a better system than we have in the U.S. where we value business and commercial interests more than we value agricultural, culinary, social, and democratic traditions.
When Lactalis (the largest milk processor in France) proposed to alter the rules for the Camembert de Normandie AOC several years back, to allow for a sub-pastuerization thermal treatment of the milk, consumers organized a boycott of Lactalis until they withdrew their proposal.
It is also worth pointing out that over 10 years ago the U.S. imposed a 100% tarif on Roquefort cheese — an AOC raw sheep’s milk blue cheese aged in natural limestone caves in the South of France, and the crown jewel of traditional French raw milk cheese. The reason? It was in retaliation for the E.U.’s refusal to import U.S. beef because it is laced with growth hormones and anti-biotics. As one of his outgoing acts in office, George W. Bush ordered this tarif increased three-fold to 300%. Fortunately the ensuing protest from U.S. foodies and French Roquefort producers convinced the Obama administration to revoke the increase, but the old 100% tarif still stands. And this was all done through the WTO in the name of “the free market” — basically a symbolic strong-arm tactic to try to get the EU to open up their markets to U.S. beef producers (the French take great pride in their Roquefort).
I’m willing to bet that most European consumers do not want GMOs or feedlot beef, and I think it is entirely justified and commendable that the EU bans these things. Most American consumers probably don’t want those things either. Simply requiring the labelling of food products which contain GMO ingredients would go a long way towards reducing their use, though I still think an outright ban is preferable.
RE: S. 510, see my recent comment on Bill Marler’s blog.
I’m all in favor of labelling of GMO foodstuffs. I’d sooner have it done privately, under a OL-type model, but it’s not in my view an unreasonable job for government. Then we can use the market to drive them out of the marketplace. GMOS are only secondarily responsible for the problem you describe…we’ve gotten to a point where intellectual property law is generally being abused (whether IP exists at all is a discussion that can be found elsewhere), and GMOs are only part of the IP driving that.
I’m all in favor of free trade. The WTO is not about free trade. Free trade is, “We’re only charging enough tariff to run the ports, and we’re applying it equally”…or no tariff at all. You don’t need a huge book detailing free trade rules….because there aren’t any. Wasn’t there also at that time an attempt to ban all European raw milk cheeses? I seem to remember that.
I have only two words for anyone who would presume to dictate my diet to me: “Step outside!”
We could sit here all day and debate the definition of free trade and the free market. It would be an excersise in frivolity.
Humans are social creatures, and any market system is embedded in social customs, institutions, and collectivist legal entities like corporations, cooperatives, LLCs, etc… Society pre-exists the market. The market does not pre-exist society.
Like regulations, markets can be used for good or for bad. The WTO is about opening up markets for large corporations, to further shift the balance of power and wealth upwards, to the powerful. Indeed, the whole market system as we understand it in today’s industrialized society has only tended to shift wealth and power upwards.
I’m interested in shifting power and wealth back to the rest of us. The free market can certainly be a tool to do this in certain cases (like raw milk), but I would never put my faith in the free market to this on its own. I wouldn’t put my faith in the government, either, for that matter, though like the market it can be a tool to accomplish the goal.
Ultimately what is needed is a more democratic distribution of power. The less than 1% of people who own and control our society do not want this, however… the struggle over raw milk and some of the other issues I talk about only illustrate this trend. The policy of the government and the realities of the marketplace run in direct contradiction to the overwhelming will of the people.
Its funny, because the Rockefellers are actually consumers of raw milk themselves. And so is the royal family in the UK! In the documents from his criminal trials over his sale of raw milk, Canadian farmer Michael Schmidt is charged as “The Queen v. Michael Schmidt.” Ironic, isn’t it!
Raw milk for the common person? Can’t be allowed! Only the uber rich are allowed raw milk!
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